News24

Prison fire 'part of escape plan'

2013-01-13 14:03

Bloemfontein - A fire at Groenpunt Prison, in the Free State, was part of an elaborate escape plan, it was reported on Sunday.

Correctional Services Minister Sbu Ndebele said maximum security inmates set the blaze after an initial escape attempt, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

"They started with the locks and then broke the beds and made keys and weapons. They started there and moved and lit the fires," he said.

Six jail cells and three administration offices were gutted by the blaze and all files on the inmates were destroyed.

Ndebele told the newspaper the timing of the riot was planned.

"There is a mistaken idea in the prison... that, during Christmas, we are relaxed and most attempts to escape come then.

"They will be shocked, because we know all about that."

He said that his personal experience of being a prisoner meant that he understood "both sides very well".

According to the report, some members of prison staff could be suspended for failing to avert the riot.

Four prison warders were injured in the riot. About 50 inmates were injured when police moved in to stop the riot.

Prisoners had complained about the quality of food and about some prison officials. They also wanted a unit head to be fired.

Comments
  • mpho.gift.1804 - 2013-01-13 14:20

    'Part of escape plan'

  • sharon.erwin.96 - 2013-01-13 14:31

    "They also wanted a unit head to be fired." Now I can see why the above can lead to some confusion, so let me clear that up. Getting someone FIRED (figurative) is not the same as setting a FIRE (literal). It seems to be a concept many South Africans struggle with....

  • wesley.nel.5 - 2013-01-13 15:00

    "There is a mistaken idea in the prison... that, during Christmas, we are relaxed and most attempts to escape come then." - somebody have there dates wrong. Did the prisoners think it is Christmas outside, or is the Correctional services always on Christmas

  • williamjoseph.roberts - 2013-01-13 15:26

    'We knew about it'according to the minister-why did they let it happen?

  • williamjoseph.roberts - 2013-01-13 15:28

    What is the minister trying to say?

  • zebedee.kok - 2013-01-13 16:31

    complain about the food???????? you f*%&ers can eat s*^t for all i care!

  • IMPAYAS - 2013-01-13 16:49

    This department is cruel..they want to fire some officials for not stoping rhe riot...how can they stop south african most dangerous people serving multiple years ...when they are under staffed..they have only a baton to defend themselves....the top management should be blamed...they are trying to shift the responsibilty of their beloved prisoners..to poor wardens...this is unfair...

  • rob.tubbs.39 - 2013-01-13 19:39

    Presume they have a 'Disaster Recovery' Plan in place and that duplicate records of all prisoners have been 'archived'....... NAH......

  • Marike Van Wyk - 2013-01-13 21:28

    this is exactly what is WRONG in our country.... the minister having experience on both sides... i rest my case!

      Tsholo Moashe - 2014-10-26 14:02

      He was a political prisoner, as he was jailed for fighting apartheid, you imbecile!

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