New Prison water crisis finally over as pipe repair is completed

2015-03-23 00:00

AFTER almost three weeks without water, Pietermaritzburg New Prison says the problem has been fixed for good.

The Witness reported last week that the prison had reached crisis point as it entered its second week without ­water.

Accounts by prisoners from New Prison of being unable to flush toilets or shower, and living off five slices of dry brown bread and tea a day (because prison catering staff were unable to cook or clean the tableware), were recounted to The Witness.

However, KwaZulu-Natal Correctional Services acting regional commissioner Bhekinkosi Mchunu said on Friday the water crisis at the prison was now a thing of the past.

“The water crisis was caused by an old pipe that eventually burst from the water pressure flowing through it.”

He said the problem came down to an airlock which had blocked one of the old pipes, as well as there being problems with a pipe on the other side of the prison that was used to supply water to fire hydrants around the prison.

“We had many contractors try to fix the pipe and fail. The job was so big we had the municipality and a private contractor working on the pipe,” he said.

Mchunu added that only three of the upper wards of the prison had been without water due to poor water ­pressure from the broken pipe.

“The water has been on and off since March 5, but it has now been permanently repaired because we have directly identified the problem.”

Mchunu said the New Prison had­ ­already transferred over 1 000 of its ­offenders since last Monday to prisons all over KwaZulu-Natal.

“We believe because the pipe has been fixed there is enough water and water pressure. However, we are still reducing the number of our offenders to manage our supply of water,” he added.

Mchunu said the prisoners had been very understanding during the water crisis and there had been no hiccups in the day-to-day running of the prison.

“The offenders are happy that everything is back to normal now,” he said.

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