Power, Discourse and Harm Research Group Seminar

G4S and the South African Prison System

Wednesday 5th June 2019, 2pm, B105
Ruth Hopkins, Investigative Journalist

Ruth Hopkins, Investigative Journalist

Investigative journalist Ruth Hopkins will talk about her investigation into a South African prison run by British company G4S.

In 2013, while working with the Wits Justice Project at the Journalism Department of Wits University, Ruth uncovered widespread use of electroshocking, suspicious deaths, forced medication with anti-psychotic drugs and lengthy isolation of inmates at multinational security company G4S’ Bloemfontein prison. Major international news networks ran the story, a governmental investigation was announced and G4S saw its shares drop.

The allegations are according to around 100 sources – prisoners as well as security guards, prison and health officials – and based on medical records, legal documents and video footage shot inside the prison.

Her book on the prison investigation, Misery Merchants, will appear end of October 2019. A Dutch team of filmmakers has produced a film on the same investigation. Ruth has continued her investigation into the company that has a questionable track record the world over.


Ruth Hopkins is an award winning investigative journalist, based in South Africa. She worked as a journalist and editor with the Wits Justice Project in Johannesburg from 2012 to end of 2018, producing content about wrongful convictions, lengthy remand detention, police brutality and various other criminal justice issues. Her book on trafficking women into Europe (Ik laat je nooit meer gaan, I will never let you go again), was published in 2005 and based on five years of research in Albania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and the Netherlands. With an LLM in International Law and Human Rights, Ruth has also explored other areas of work. In addition to her journalistic work, she set up and taught a human rights course at a journalism college in the Netherlands.