A CONVICTED murderer and a convicted rapist, both serving long prison sentences, are to be paid R255000 in damages for the "humiliation" that warders from the Correctional Services Department inflicted on them after they were wrongly identified as the instigators of a hostage situation at St Albans prison.
Judge Judith Roberson said the two prisoners were justified in approaching the Port Elizabeth High Court to vindicate their right to dignity and bodily security after they suffered a revenge attack by Correctional Services warders who had received the wrong information.
Roberson also ordered prison authorities to pay more than R128000 for the knee replacement that Sivuyile Bam, who is serving a 15-year sentence for murder, was likely to need after his knee was badly damaged in the assaults.
Bam was in hospital for eight days following the assault. She ordered that he be paid R180000 in damages for humiliation, pain and suffering for being wrongly identified as an aggressor in the hostage situation which developed at the prison in May 2010.
The court heard that after two prisoners were taken into an office for disciplinary measures a large group of angry prisoners started rioting outside the office door, threatening the lives of the warders inside.
Sivuyile Yako, who is serving a 12-year sentence for rape and suffered the same fate as Bam but sustained fewer injuries, was awarded R75000 in damages.
Roberson, however, dismissed the claims of two other prisoners, Sandiso Dlakavu and Zola Skefile, who are both serving life imprisonment and were correctly identified as the instigators of a potentially life-threatening situation.
She said the warders were justified in using force to subdue them. "The warders were entitled to defend themselves and the other members in the office," Roberson said.
"It is very important to remember the atmosphere in the small office, from which there was no escape ... and there was a crowd of aggressive inmates at the door, uttering threats."
The men were represented by Port Elizabeth human rights attorney James Philipson and advocate Michelle Beneke.