Faulty intercom speakers blamed for sick prisoner’s death

2009-11-04 00:00

FAULTY intercom speakers at the Pietermaritzburg New Prison are to blame for the death of an inmate at the correctional facility on Monday, a source inside the prison said.

The source said Thamsanqa Simelane died after he took ill in the early hours of Monday morning.

He said prisoners tried for several hours to get the guards’ attention through the prison intercom system, but the speakers were not working.

The source said Simelane took ill at about 2.30 am on Monday, complaining of chest pains.

“Inside the prison, there are intercoms that are used by the prisoners to alert the guards to emergencies.

“We tried from 2.30 am to get help and none of the night shift guards came. Help only came at about 6.15 from the morning shift guards. At 6.30 the man died.”

The source said when they asked the guards why it took them so long to attend to the emergency, they were told that the speakers were not working.

“The worrying thing is that those speakers are the only means of communication with the guards when there is an emergency.

“They knew that the speakers were not working, and yet they never gave us an alternative plan of what we should do when there is an emergency …”

Nokuthula Zikhali, spokeswoman for the Correctional Services Department, confirmed that Simelane died on Monday morning due to illness.

She said Simelane informed the guards in the morning that he was unwell and they took him to the prison’s hospital where he died.

She denied allegations that the broken speakers were to blame.

“The prison is divided into sections and each section has a guard.

“Even if the speakers were not working, there is always a prison guard in the vicinity that could have assisted.”

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