Who took prison riot video?

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SAKHILE ND­LAZI

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.

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