The Department of Correctional Services said the clashes at St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth which left three inmates dead was a “sharp reminder of the many life threatening conditions under which no less than 38 000 Correctional Officials perform their daily duties.”
That was the word from the Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Thabang Makwetla.
He visited St Albans on Tuesday along with Correctional Services Commissioner, Zach Modise.
The visit follows Monday’s clashes between inmates and Correctional Services officials which left three inmates dead and 25 others injured.
“According to the preliminary report given to us, yesterday morning at around 10:00 a total of 33 inmates started attacking officials who were on duty. The offenders who were carrying sharp objects and self-made knives violently attacked officials,” Makwetla said.
“This led to an unfortunate standoff until reinforcement were called in. In the ensuing attack, a total of thirteen (13) officials were injured (six critically so) and admitted in hospital. Three (3) inmates lost their lives (one in our local prison clinic and the other two at the nearby hospital).”
“In order to strengthen our enforcement capabilities, we have decided to place St Albans on a lockdown and suspend all family visits to the centre. This is a necessary precautionary step in order to bring back normalcy to the centre,” Deputy Minister Makwetla added.
“The Ministry wish to commend officials who managed to quell down this rebellious act that could have led to a calamitous situation on our hands. In the same vein, our condolences and sympathy goes to the families and relatives of the deceased inmates. The DCS is in the process of informing the affected families and will, where necessary, provide assistance,” he said.
“We have launched a formal internal departmental inquiry. In addition the SAPS is already on site conducting its own independent investigation.”
Deputy Minister Makwetla said that “the Ministry will expeditiously communicate with the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS), an oversight body in our Correctional Facilities, to employ their services to ensure that no stone is left unturned in establishing a factual account of this incident.”