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Children in Detention in South Africa

NCJ Number
Children's Legal Rights Journal Volume: 8 Issue: 3 Dated: (Summer 1987) Pages: 8-10
P Puritz
Date Published
3 pages
A large number of children are detained in South Africa, mostly under laws against anti government activity or public order offenses.
Research shows that 25-50 percent of those detained in any given day in South Africa are children under the age of 18. There is no separation of children from adults in the prisons; the average length of detention varied from 1-490 days; one-third had been detained in solitary confinement; and 97 percent had evidence of physical abuse and torture. The laws under which children allegedly involved in 'anti government' activities have been arrested and detained include the Internal Security Act, which states that in order to maintain public order, persons can be detained if they are suspected of committing offenses against the state or are believed to be endangering the security of the state. These persons can be detained indefinitely without charge for purposes of interrogation. The Criminal Procedure Act charges a person with public violence. This charge may be applied to youth who are accused of stone-throwing or damaging property. The State of Emergency intensifies the existing powers of law enforcement, making a wide range of activities illegal, including wearing T-shirts or displaying posters with prohibited slogans.