SOUTH AFRICA: Anglican-linked rights centre cuts ties with G4S

g4sA well known South African human rights organization founded by Anglican priest Father Michael Lapsley has terminated its relationship with the controversial G4S security company due to its complicity in the Mangaung torture allegations and Israeli detention of Palestinians.

After being approached by the Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation, BDS South Africa, the renowned Cape Town based “Trauma Centre” cut ties with G4S.

The ANC Youth League Western Cape has praised Trauma Centre’s decision, terming it “revolutionary”.

James Taylor, the Chairperson of the Trauma Centre, in an official statement, explained the organisation’s decision:

“The Trauma Centre is committed to creating a society free from violence and torture and committed to a culture of human rights…we therefore note with great concern the serious allegations levelled against the security company G4S of complicity in the illegal incarceration and torture of Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. …such acts would violate the very principles which form the basis of our existence as a human rights organisation. It is because of these serious concerns, which violate our fundamental values, that the Board of the Trauma Centre has decided to terminate our organisation’s relationship with G4S.”

G4S has provides services for Israeli prisons and detention centres where Palestinians, including children and sick people, are held for resisting occupation of their homeland by the Zionist state.

Taylor added that the board of the Trauma Centre also considered G4S’ recent complicity in torture at the Mangaung correctional centre in its decision.

In October, South African newspaper the Mail & Guardian published a months-long investigation which that the Mangaung prison in the Free State, run by the beleaguered multinational private security company G4S, allegedly forcibly injected inmates with antipsychotic medication and used electroshocks to subdue and control prisoners.

The 12-month-long investigation into the prison uncovered video footage shot inside the prison hospital that shows prisoners being given medication against their will, as well as the use of electroshocks and assaults on prisoners.

The Trauma Centre was founded 20 years ago in 1993 by the well-known clergyman, Father Michael Lapsley (who, due to a letter bomb sent by Apartheid South Africa, lost both his hands and the sight in one of his eyes). The centre played a crucial role in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and is arguably one of the most well known human rights trauma organisations in the country.

The Trauma Centre is backed by eminent patrons including Archbishop Desmond Tutu; wife of Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel; former South African Judge, Justice Richard Goldstone; Anglican bishop and a former Robben Island prisoner, Njongonkulu Ndungane; Chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs and Director at Standard Bank, Fred Phaswana; and anti-apartheid struggle icon, Ahmed Kathrada.

Welcoming the decision by The Trauma Centre, Kwara Kekana of BDS South Africa commented: “That a South African organisation with such a history and importance as the Trauma Centre has taken the principled decision to terminate relations with G4S due to the company’s complicity in Israeli prisons and human rights abuses should set an example and precedent for all South African organisations, businesses, universities and other entities that have contracts with G4S. We are calling on, in particular, the Airports Company of South Africa, the South African Post Office, and the universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch –who all have contracts with G4S– to immediately end their relations with the company.”

G4S, the world largest security company, has been the target of several successful international boycott actions and campaigns in recent years due to its complicity in Israel’s illegal detentions and torture of Palestinian political prisoners.

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