THE news that allegations that forced injections and electric shocks were used on prisoners at a South African prison run by the UK-owned G4S, is just the latest in a long string of complaints from across the world about the activities of the world’s largest private security company.
Earlier this month, the ANC government had been forced to take over the running of Mangaung Correctional Centre near Bloemfontein after finding that G4S had ‘lost effective control over the prison’ after it had experienced a wave of killings, strikes and riots.
The allegations, strenuously denied by G4S, that have emerged since the prison being taken over is one of a regime of torture carried out by guards through the use of forced injections and electric shock treatment.
A former G4S employee told the BBC that electric shocks were necessary because guards were hopelessly outnumbered by prisoners, he said: ‘We use them sometimes because we are understaffed and we are expected to bring out the results and also to instil fear on the inmates’.
He went on in the interview to agree that this constituted torture and that it was ‘common practice’ at the correction centre, which is the second largest private prison in the world – G4S and one of its operating companies own 81% of the shares in the prison.
G4S also runs Britain’s largest ‘supersized’ prison at Oakwood near Wolverhampton.
This private prison, which houses 1,600 prisoners, was opened in April last year and has just had its first official inspection.
The report of this inspection claims that, according to prisoners, it is easier to get hold of illegal drugs in the prison than it is a bar of soap, with one in seven reporting that they actually acquired a drug habit whilst at Oakwood.
The inspection also found that the use of force to restrain inmates there was twice as high as that at similar jails.
The use of force by employees of G4S has not been confined to prisons.
Three years ago Jimmy Mubenga, who was being deported to Angola on a British Airways flight, died when the three G4S security guards restrained him, and in July this year an inquest jury found that Mubenga had been unlawfully killed by the guards.
For years G4S held the lucrative contract for ‘tagging’ offenders in Britain.
This came to an end when G4S and its private security rival, Serco, were accused of charging the government for tagging prisoners who were either dead, already in prison or had never been tagged in the first place.
Justice minister Chris Grayling accused G4S and Serco of ‘overcharging’ the government by tens of millions of pounds, and called in the Serious Fraud Squad to investigate.
When not reaping huge profits from running international privatisation schemes in the security field, G4S is up to its neck in the privatisation of the NHS in Britain.
On their website they boast that G4S ‘provides services to around 200 hospitals and healthcare centres in the UK alone’, while they recently told their investors that internationally they are increasing their focus on healthcare, which gives them ‘higher gross margins’ than their traditional security business.
This is the authentic face of privatisation, having plundered the privatisation bonanza around prison services they are now intent on plundering the NHS by seizing control of its multi-billion pound budget, cutting staff, wages and closing down hospitals on a mass scale and reaping vast profits from the human misery they will leave in their wake.
There is only one way to put an end to G4S and all the privateer vultures and that is to put an end to the government that is hell-bent on privatising everything.
This means demanding that the TUC call a general strike to bring down the government and replace it with a workers government that will go forward to a socialist society where the private companies like G4S will be abolished.