St Albans prisoners on hunger strike as tensions reach boiling point

2016-12-30 22:29
Three people have been killed and a further 26 injured in a clash between prisoners and wardens at the St Albans Prison in Nelson Mandela Bay. (Sizwe Kupelo)

Three people have been killed and a further 26 injured in a clash between prisoners and wardens at the St Albans Prison in Nelson Mandela Bay. (Sizwe Kupelo)

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Port Elizabeth - Tensions between prisoners and correctional officials at St Albans maximum prison are at boiling point as prisoners have now embarked on a hunger strike in protest.

Eastern Cape Correctional Services spokesperson Nkosinathi Breakfast confirmed to News24 that offenders had not touched their daily meals at the facility since Tuesday.

Breakfast said while offenders have refused to eat food from correctional services suppliers, "most of them are eating stock bought by their families and friends".

There are a few who have no family provisions but are continuing with the strike.

Breakfast said he met with two offenders from each cell to discuss their grievances on Thursday but refused to tell News24 any of their complaints.

"Yesterday, I addressed all offenders and also I gave them an opportunity to raise complaints with me. Each cell was represented by two inmates. I can't comment on various complaints... There is tension between inmates and officials and officials each day feel like it could be their last and so do the offenders."

READ: 'Worst of the worst' inmates behind attack on St Albans prison guards

He however later said that one of the complaints raised by the offenders was that they were not receiving adequate exercise time.

"Some say they do not have enough time to exercise and we need to investigate whether an hour is enough. There are common complaints but there are also individual complaints and they will all be addressed. There is obvious tension and it is receiving [the attention of the national] correctional services department."

On Monday, violence broke out between inmates and correctional services officials. Three prisoners were killed and 26 officials injured.

Some of the inmates had been armed with sharp objects and self-made knives.

Breakfast said the tension at the prison had been brewing for more than five years.

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  crime  |  protests

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