Revolt in Groenpunt prison and beyond


In order for the capitalist class to continue to exist it requires a mechanism which it  as the ruling class can enforce its rule over the working class. The police, military, judicial, educational and penal systems are designed to protect the institutions of the capitalist class such as private and bourgeois ownership of the means of production.

Conditions in the prisons

Revolts broke out at the maximum Security unit of the prison in Deneysville in the Free State. The inmates were dissatisfied over food, lack of training and rehabilitation programmes. The prisoners demanded improved conditions in these areas.

Some of the prisons are overcrowded with poor ventilation and poor lighting. One of the factors leading to overcrowding is that many inmates are in for petty crime such as taking bread from the supermarkets because of hunger and unemployment.

According to the 2011-2012 annual report of the Independent Complaints Directorate, 932 people died in police custody or as a result of police ‘action’, in this period.

Recently a Nigerian worker, Obinna Chinatu Ujboaja, died in police custody, while over the last 2 years at least 4 Nigerians were killed by the police while behind bars. There are also several more incidents of police brutality towards Nigerians held in custody. Most of the cases are swept under the carpet because the mainstream media paints an image that all Nigerians are criminals. Several other immigrant workers are regularly targeted by the police. This is a mechanism of dividing the working class. Besides this, the state has several immigration prisons which are transit sites for expelling excess immigrant workers. The Lindela immigration prison is run by tenders by ANC cronies. This shows how the ANC elite lives off the scraps from the master’s table (the capitalist class). Immigration prisons are set up to divide the working class and to keep immigrant workers permanently destabilised so that there is maximum competition among workers to drive wages to the lowest possible level.

In the USA, the world’s biggest imperialist power has the most prisons and the highest percentage of the population are behind bars- this is to keep the working class from resisting against the capitalist system. This is because of the role of US imperialism plundering the working class of the world that the biggest capitalists of the world require to intimidate and keep the working class under control on home soil. The real gangsters are the capitalists who steal billions and trillions of dollars of wealth every year but they are not in prison, but a worker who takes a slice of bread from the supermarket shelves is in jail.

The way forward

We see that even the lumpen proletariat (petty gangster) and the jailed worker  is starting to recognise that what is happening to them is inhuman, even their level of consciousness is rising- they see the class differences in society, they see the state as being on the side of the capitalists- in other words they see that the state is the enemy. Thus the prison revolts should be seen as part of the generalised process of revolt that has broken out since the Marikana uprising.

Prisons are part of the mechanism of the capitalist system that maintains inequality- it is part of the exploitation system that forces the working class to sell its labour power for slave wages in order to survive. In this capitalist democracy there is no rehabilitation in prisons nor real corrective programmes.

·         All economic prisoners such as those who stole food from the supermarkets should be immediately released;

·         Arrest the bosses of Anglo American and other capitalists

·         Disband all the immigration prisons

·         Expropriate the mines, banks, commercial farms, the entire food and construction industry, without compensation to the capitalists, under workers control, nationalise the land; special measures to support the small farmer. For farm worker collectives.

·         For a centralised state retailer and distributor- expropriate Shoprite, Distell, Tiger Brands and others, without compensation to the capitalists, under workers control

·         for private control of the Reserve bank to be abolished, all banks to be centralised into one central bank.


Workers of the world unite! We have a common enemy in world capitalism. This system is for the capitalist class (the rich); we the working class must unite to fight this system, to get rid of it; we need a revolutionary working class party, nationally, internationally.

Forward to Socialism!