He urged supporters to “reclaim” their rights, “because prisoners can’t have more rights than our children”.

EFF leader Julius Malema has sparked debate after his claim that prisoners in SA were living in better conditions than the poorest in society.

Addressing a community meeting in Reiger Park, East of Johannesburg, over the weekend, Malema claimed prisoners were “taken care of” behind bars while citizens often had to fend for themselves.

READ MORE: Unspeakable horrors of South Africa’s prisons

“In prison, there is a flushing toilet. You are not in prison but you don’t have a flushing toilet. Your situation is worse than those in prison, and yet you are not in prison.”

Watch Julius Malema talk about the conditions of poverty in SA

He urged supporters to “reclaim” their rights, “because prisoners can’t have more rights than our children”.

The state of SA prisons

However, former chief justice Edwin Cameron told GroundUp last year that prisons were in a state of disaster with leaks, broken windows, unrepaired electric installations, and stinking ablutions. He said this was due to a lack of maintenance.

“At Stanger, the whole prison structure is decrepit. The roofing consists of degrading asbestos – posing a serious health risk to inmates. Predictably, heavy rain causes the roof to leak.

“Besides, the roof is very low, so there are no beds. Why? Because the inmates could stack them and escape through the leaky roof.

“This means they have to sleep on the floor – which plainly violates the promise in the Bill of Rights, and in the 1998 prisons’ statute (Correctional Services Act) that prisoners shall be held in conditions ‘consistent with human dignity’.”

Free education and increased grants

In his address on Sunday, Malema called for children to get a free education.

“No uniform. They must get books and meals at school. They must eat at school because no child can think on an empty stomach.

“We want these children to excel. We want these children to be perfect. We have to make sure they eat. A child cannot struggle for their next meal.”

Watch Julius Malema’s full address below

Malema previously promised to increase the child support grant to R1 000 from R530. He also plans to double other social grants, including those for the elderly and war veterans to over R4 0000 a month.

READ MORE: WATCH: Should prisoners have access to cellphones?

He repeated his stance at the meeting that neglected children may become a problem to society.

“These people (child grant recipients) need money to support their children. These children, if not properly supported, could become criminals”.


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