Fiery rioting quelled after 51 prisoners injured

2013-01-09 00:00

BLOEMFONTEIN — Nine warders and 51 maximum security prisoners were injured and three administration blocks were burned in two days of rioting at the Greenpoint prison in Deneysville in the Free State.

Nontsikilelo Jolingana, acting national commissioner of Correctional Services, said yesterday that six prison cells were also badly damaged.

Yesterday afternoon, the explosions of stun grenades that could be heard as police tried until early yesterday morning to regain control of the prison had been replaced by an ominous silence.

All personnel at the prison were still on standby yesterday to prevent a repeat of the rioting, which was reportedly sparked by bad-tasting prison food, bad treatment by certain warders, parole issues and the lack of necessary medicines for prisoners.

Beeld learned that the inmates in the medium-security unit also wanted to start a riot, but their attempt was quickly stopped.

The riots started in the maximum security unit at about 6 pm on Monday.

A stream of cars, police vehicles ambulances and a firefighting soon entered the prison.

Constable Peter Kareli, of Sasolburg police, said about 50 prisoners were injured when the public order policing unit shot rubber bullets and used tazers on the rioters.

He said it was “a mission” just to gain access to the prison, as more than 200 inmates were blocking the doors.

Some of the 700 inmates had armed themselves with shower heads with sharpened sections of piping.

Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said riots in prisons would not be tolerated.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) yesterday also condemned the riots.

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