St Albans' lockdown gradually being lifted

2017-01-02 07:08
Picture: Mlandeli Puzi

Picture: Mlandeli Puzi

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Cape Town - The lockdown at St Albans prison in Port Elizabeth is slowly being lifted after three people were killed and around 20 injured during violent clashes on Boxing Day, Eastern Cape Correctional Services said.

Provincial Commissioner Nkosinathi Breakfast said offenders are being allowed to phone their families again, as well as receive visitors.

But authorities are not ready yet to allow prisoners out into the exercise areas.

Prisoners suddenly turned on officials with rudimentary weapons mid-morning on Monday.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla said the fight had broken out when 33 prisoners started attacking guards in the dining hall at the end of the morning meal.

During the fight, 13 officials were injured, six of them critically. 

Three prisoners were killed. One died at the prison clinic and two others died after being transferred to Livingstone Hospital.

A hunger strike now appears to be gaining ground in the prison.

Meanwhile, Breakfast said the officials who were injured are recovering slowly, but they will need ongoing psychological support.

''It is not a nice thing for officials to go to work and to not know what is going to happen,'' he said.

He has not wanted to discuss the complaints that the offenders have raised, but the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, headed by former Constitutional Court Judge Johann van der Westhuizen is investigating the incident.

According to JICS, it received over 60 000 complaints ranging from assault, to torture, to confiscation of belongings for the period 2015/16.

JICS investigates complaints related to activities inside prisons, which National Commissioner Zach Modise has acknowledged are faced with problems of overcrowding and gangsterism.

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  prisons

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