Staff shortages and overcrowding adds to prison violence, Popcru

Three inmates were killed and over 20 injured in a brawl between prisoners and warders at St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth.

A probe has been launched to establish what transpired at the facility and whether the brawl was an elaborate escape plot.

Spokesperson for the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), Richard Mamabolo, says this situation could have been avoided if the department dealt with issues of staff compliments and overcrowding.

Mamabolo says this is not the first incident because prisoners know when there's staff shortages and take advantage of the situation.

The one thing we are not happy about is the fact that we have been raising these issues with the department yet nothing has been done.

Richard Mamabolo, Popcru Spokesperson

Mamabolo says the department of correctional services is not doing enough to keep prisoners busy while there are incarcerated. He says the taxpayers money is wasted on people who sit and do nothing the whole day, that's why they resort to gangsterism to keep busy.

Suggestions have been made to the department to allow prisoner to grow their own food to keep busy, a skill they can use when they are out of prison, says Mamabolo.

Zach Modise, National Correctional Services Commissioner has acknowledged that staff shortages and overcrowding were some of the contributing factors in the deadly violence.

In terms of numbers we are not where we want to be because we believe if we could have 20 000 more officials we will be in a better position to render our services.

Zach Modise, National Correctional Services Commissioner

The incident at St Albans is deeply regrettable, we believe it is something that could've been avoided.

Zach Modise, National Correctional Services Commissioner

According to Modise, the department has a staff component of 38 000 looking after 158 offenders.

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