Who took prison riot video?
JUSTICE and and Correctional Services officials were yesterday scratching their heads about the identity of the person who captured on a cellphone Sunday’s brawl between inmates and warders at Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre in Pretoria.
Initial reports said the footage was taken by an inmate, but departmental spokesperson Logan Maistry refused to speculate, saying this would form part of the investigation.
“Inmates are prohibited from having cellphones. If it is an offender who took the footage, his or her privileges will be taken away and they could be summoned to appear in court. If it is an official, the culprit could face a disciplinary process or be dismissed,” he said.
Kgosi Mampuru was declared the country’s best correctional facility just last week by Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional service. The footage has been doing the rounds online since the weekend.
It shows inmates attacking warders using makeshift weapons.
According to officials, the offenders were refusing to go into their cells as they were unhappy with how the facility was dealing with parole issues. Other issues included poor food and overcrowding.
The warders had to use dogs‚ electric shields and pepper spray to contain the situation. Correctional Services specialised units were called in to help quash the riot.
Maistry said: “We will remain vigilant and keep up our guard. Our officials are well trained to deal with such incidents by using the required amount of force.”
He added that there was no need for panic, despite suggestions that other prisons in Gauteng might also riot.
“As far as we know, this only occurred at Kgosi Mampuru,” he said.
Maistry said several measures had already been implemented to ease the situation. “We are dealing with the (parole) backlog, and it is receiving priority attention,” he said.
As part of assessing offenders serving life sentences, professional reports and recommendations on risk and rehabilitation were considered during the parole process.
“Unfortunately, the combined lack of reports from social workers and psychologists, as well as outstanding restorative justice interventions, were cited as the main reasons why submission of profiles to parole boards are delayed,” said Maistry.
The department had embarked on a project to fill vacancies, and about half of them were already filled. In certain circumstances, offenders were transferred to centres where services by psychologists and social workers were available.
Maistry said that in March, the national commissioner sent a circular to all correctional centres reiterating procedures to be followed when profiles for lifers were submitted.
A request was also made for task teams to be set up from centre level all the way to provincial and regional level strictly to manage the backlogs of cases for parole consideration.
BRAWLING: Initial reports stated the footage was taken by an inmate.