St Albans prison violence was avoidable - Popcru

2016-12-28 18:52
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Johannesburg - The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Poprcu) says the violent attack at St Albans Correctional Centre could have been prevented.

Three people were killed and 13 correctional services officials injured on Monday when violence broke out in the dining hall.

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

Popcru has blamed the incident on overcrowding, a chronic staff shortage and a particular work shift system, and says gangs are taking advantage of the crisis.  

"The current shift system, coupled by the long-standing understaffing and overcrowding, has been at the centre of this debacle, with gangs taking opportune moments to foster lawlessness in these centres, while being fully aware of the limited figures of correctional officials on duty at any given time," Popcru said in a statement.

The national prison population is estimated to be at more than 160 000 and is serviced by 26 000 prison officials.

Popcru said the situation compromised the safety of prison officials, leading to low morale, and left the system unable to rehabilitate inmates.

Costs

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

It accused the department of correctional services of ignoring the plight of correctional services officials, while focusing on "privatising correctional centres and the tenderisation of most services".

"We are irate over the lack of putting into practice the necessary measures aimed at ensuring the core function of rehabilitating inmates is fully undertaken and the insurance of a safe working environment for correctional officials," Popcru said.

Popcru said recent studies had shown that more than 80% of inmates reoffend after their release, signalling that they should not remain indolent while at correctional services centres, but should instead do consistent work to ensure the centres were self-sufficient.  

"Correctional Centres should be self-sufficient insofar as food production through farming, the production of offender uniforms, furniture, both steel and wood, as well as inmates’ beds and lockers, the general maintenance and repairs," the union said.

It said this would help cut down on costs, while ensuring that prisoners were skilled and kept occupied.

Read more on:    popcru  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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