50 inmates injured in Free State prison stampede

2013-01-08 08:54

Around 50 inmates of the Groenpunt prison in Deneysville, Free State, suffered minor injuries in a stampede when police entered the facility early this morning.

A riot broke out at around 4pm yesterday when prisoners refused to eat and started setting fires.

Police spokesman Constable Peter Kareli told Sapa at daybreak that the situation was peaceful.

“We are now going back to assess the damage and investigate what led to the unrest,” he said.

Kareli said five prison staff suffered minor injuries. SABC radio news, which put the staff injury toll at nine, reported that the riot happened at the maximum security section when some 227 inmates barricaded their unit to prevent officials from entering.

Police reinforcements from Vereeniging, Sasolburg and Welkom were called in and stun grenades were used so they could enter, according the report.

It was further reported that some prisoners’ files had been damaged in fires set to part of the administration buildings, which could delay some inmates’ release.

Cells had also been set alight and the electricity cut off.

Prisoners had made weapons from shower heads and steel rods. They had also aired their grievances to a local radio station after getting hold of cellphones.

Criminal charges would be laid against prisoners who had been involved in the riot, the radio reported Correctional Services as saying.

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