Prison riot 'shows need for more prisons'

2013-01-10 13:29
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Prison on lockdown

2013-01-08 14:25

Officials have declared a lockdown at Groenpunt prison in the Free State after prisoners burned down sections of the facility. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg - A riot at Groenpunt prison this week underlined the urgent need for more prisons, the IFP said on Thursday.

Officials had failed to contain the situation because of the high number of inmates at the prison, in the Free State, said Inkatha Freedom Party correctional services spokesperson Velaphi Ndlovu.

"Overcrowding of prisons renders unmanageable incidents like this....

"The IFP therefore urges the Minister of Correctional Services [Sibusiso Ndebele] to request additional budget allocation from Treasury for the building of more prisons," he said.


Prisoners at Groenpunt started off by refusing to eat on Monday, before setting alight cells and offices, and injuring four warders. Around 50 inmates were injured when police moved in to stop the riot.

The prisoners complained about the quality of food and about some prison officials. They wanted a unit head fired.

SABC radio news reported that some prisoners' files were damaged in the blaze and that, as a result, the prisoners' release dates could be delayed.

It was also reported that some prisoners had been in possession of cellphones which they had used to phone a local radio station to share their grievances.

Ndlovu said prisoners implicated in the unrest should be brought to book.

"[We] condemn the behaviour... and trust that those responsible will be dealt with through our criminal justice system," he said.

Proper channels

He said their grievances should be addressed through the proper channels.

Ndebele said the inmates' behaviour would not be tolerated.

"Whilst the department of correctional services is fully committed to the humane treatment of every detainee, acts of riots by inmates at correctional centres are not acceptable and will be dealt with firmly," he said.

Ndebele said the rehabilitation of offenders, and secure, safe and orderly custody were two sides of the same coin.

"The balance between security, control and justice is paramount," he said.

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