8 January 2013

South Africa: Riots By Inmates Will Not Be Tolerated

press release

Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has re-iterated that riots instigated by inmates in correctional centres will not be tolerated.

This follows a unit set on fire by inmates yesterday (Monday, 7 January 2013) in the maximum security section of the Groenpunt Correctional Centre in Deneysville, Free State.

"Whilst the Department of Correctional Services is fully committed to the humane treatment of every detainee, acts of riots by inmates at correctional centres are not acceptable and will be dealt with firmly. The rehabilitation of offenders and secure, safe and orderly custody are two sides of the same coin. The balance between security, control and justice is paramount," the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Correctional Services Acting National Commissioner Ms. Nontsikilelo Jolingana says the situation at Groenpunt is now under control. "I left Groenpunt in the early hours of this morning (8 January), and the situation is under control. Police are still investigating, and we call upon any person who has any information that may assist in this investigation to please contact the police. Anarchy in any form will not be tolerated.

"We wish to extend our thanks, and appreciation, to our Correctional Officials who put their lives at risk every day, the South African Police Service and all other emergency services for their swift response to this incident. Nine officials and 50 offenders sustained injuries.

Damages, which amount to millions of rands, include three administration offices that were completely burnt and destroyed (everything in the offices such as furniture, files and so on destroyed) and six cells extensively damaged.

"At around 6pm yesterday (Monday, 7 January), I received a report from Correctional Services Acting Regional Commissioner for the Free State/Northern Cape Region; Ms Grace Molatedi that part of the Groenpunt Correctional Centre was on fire. I immediately drove from the Department of Correctional Services Head Office in Pretoria to Groenpunt, in order to obtain first-hand information on what caused the fire as well as the extent of damage and/or injuries. Upon arrival at Groenpunt, we immediately assisted emergency services to render necessary assistance. We were then briefed by Ms Molatedi, as well as other senior officials, on the incident. It is alleged that a unit in the maximum security section of the correctional centre was set on fire by aggrieved inmates," said Ms Jolingana.

Issued by: Department of Correctional Services

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