Prison for Profit

All Equal? Truth To Power
Closed CaptionsSubtitles
Director: Ilse van Velzen, Femke Van Velzen | Countries of production: Netherlands | Year: 2019 | Length: 84 min
Language: English, Afrikaans with English subtitles | Age: 15+ years
Genres: Documentary |
Topics: Human Rights
| Regions: South Africa

Screened as part of TOAFF20

When Mangaung prison opened in 2001 in South Africa, its operator – British private security firm G4S – promised a state-of-the-art correctional facility for its 3,000 prisoners – delivered at the lowest cost. Accounts emanating from the prison soon painted a different story: overworked, underpaid and hampered by a failing infrastructure, guards feared for their lives while prisoners faced violence, neglect and even torture.

Prison for Profit follows journalist Ruth Hopkins as she investigates the consequences of prison privatisation in South Africa. Through leaked surveillance video footage and conversations with whistleblowers, former inmates and wardens, she lays bare the damning cost of abandoning rehabilitation in favour of profits.

It is to directors Ilse and Femke Van Velzen’s credit that such a hard-hitting account of dehumanisation leaves the viewer in awe of the courage and humanity of those who dare to speak out – and fired up to support them in pushing for reform.

Content notes:
Contains discussions, testimonies and footage of violence and torture.

Screened as part of TOAFF20