Prisoner dies after beating

2008-01-18 00:00

A 28-YEAR-OLD prisoner at Pietermaritzburg’s New Prison was allegedly beaten to death by correctional officers who were carrying out the instructions of a senior prison official.

Correctional officers at the prison anonymously informed The Witness that 28-year-old Senzo Zepharia Mazibuko, who was serving a long sentence for robbery, was beaten after a senior official instructed that Mazibuko be “taught a lesson”.

The informants allege that over the weekend, Mazibuko and another prisoner were involved in an argument, which ended in a fight.

“[The senior official] instructed the members working in E-section to teach the prisoners a lesson and instructed the members to assault the prisoners with broomsticks, metal pipes and batons,” the sources said.

They further alleged that the senior official, whose name is known to The Witness, also took part in the beatings, “which lasted for about 30 minutes”, on Monday.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed the murder.

He said preliminary police investigations established that Mazibuko was involved in a fight with another prisoner and that Mazibuko assaulted the other prisoner with a padlock.

“The 22-year-old prisoner sustained open wounds to his head and was treated at the prison hospital.

“Further investigations have established that the deceased was thereafter taken away by the prison warders,” he said.

Police are investigating circumstances surrounding Mazibuko’s death and a postmortem has been held.

SA Prisoners’ Organisation for Human Rights (Saphor) president Golden Miles Bhudu said there have been numerous cases where prisoners’ rights were violated by prison officials.

“We are grateful that in this case some progressive officers managed to blow the whistle. However, if they [the whistleblowers] are identified they will be sitting without a job.”

Questions were sent by The Witness to the Correctional Services Department yesterday. Answers had not been received at the time of going to press.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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