Home News Bereaved family demands answers after deaths of two inmates

Bereaved family demands answers after deaths of two inmates

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The family of one of the inmates who died after he was allegedly assaulted by prison warders at Tswelopele Correctional Centre has demanded answers.

File picture: Oupa Mokoena/ANA

THE FAMILY of one of the inmates who died after he was allegedly assaulted by prison warders at Tswelopele Correctional Centre in Kimberley on the weekend learnt of his death over the news.

Two inmates died following a “scuffle” with prison warders on Saturday, March 5.

Another inmate was also injured and is reported to be in a critical condition.

Tensions are reported to be running high at the facility, with prisoners apparently “baying for blood” following the deaths of the two inmates.

Prison sources said that the deceased were from KwaZulu-Natal.

“Threats were made that they will avenge the death of the inmates. Prisoners are not supposed to be dying – they are here to be rehabilitated.”

According to eyewitnesses, the incident started when an argument erupted between one of the prison warders and an inmate on Saturday morning, where one of the inmate’s porridge landed on the floor.

“About half an hour later, one of the prisoners hit the warder over the head with a padlock. Two of the inmates’ friends came to his assistance and they chased the warder out of the unit, whereupon between 15 to 28 officials beat the offenders with batons.

“A raid was conducted at the prison for contraband items following the attack.

“Offenders are angry over how inmates were killed in cold blood and things could get out of hand very quickly. The one inmate who is now deceased made a demo album and his music was being broadcast on Radio Teemaneng.”

The brother of one of the deceased inmates stated that he wanted answers from the Department of Correctional Services.

“The family was not informed as to what happened,” said the brother. “People are not supposed to die on the inside. We do not trust this prison, they must explain to us what happened.

“We had to find out on the news that my brother was killed and when people started calling us. How do you die in prison? His death must be investigated and further action needs to be taken.

“It means people are not safe in prison. It was not a mistake that my brother died and now we have to arrange to transport the body back to KwaZulu-Natal and his funeral without any assistance.”

A number of officials were recently suspended following their refusal to be transferred from Kimberley Correctional Centre to Tswelopele Correctional Centre.

These officials believe that they would have been targets of the attack and would have been injured if they had obeyed the instruction to be transferred.

The provincial secretary of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), Boitumelo Pheleo, stated that their members acted in self-defence when they were attacked by inmates.

“Popcru remains concerned with developments at Tswelopele Correctional Centre where inmates lost their lives. It should be noted that it was not the first time inmates attacked our members. However, in this instance, we are of the view that the continued suspensions of a number of correctional officers have left our centres vulnerable and has put the lives of inmates and correctional officers at risk,” said Pheleo.

He added that they had consistently raised issues affecting correctional facilities in the Northern Cape with the regional commissioner based in Bloemfontein.

“These issues continue to fall on deaf ears; issues affecting workers in the Northern Cape are never addressed,” said Pheleo.

“We call on the Department of Correctional Services to urgently deal with the re-demarcation of correctional service and to do away with the Free State/Northern Cape demarcation, which is not assisting employees and people of the Northern Cape.

“We call on the department to investigate the area commissioner of the Kimberley management area, for bringing the organisation into disrepute by putting the lives of inmates and correctional officers at risk by unfairly suspending a number of correctional officers. The department must also investigate how members get promotions in the Kimberley management area.”

The Department of Correctional Services stated that it was “fake news” that the third inmate who was injured had died.

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