Correctional Services to account to Parliament for prison escapes
PARLIAMENT has called the Department of Correctional Services to account after 16 awaiting-trial prisoners escaped from the Johannesburg Correctional Centre, Medium A prison, known as Sun City, earlier this week.
The 16, who escaped through a pipe shaft and broke through a wall, included suspects accused of murder, rob- bery and rape.
Two of the escapees were shot and killed in KwaZuluNatal, following a shoot-out with the Hawks, bringing the number still on the run to 14.
Correctional services and justice portfolio committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga called Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha and Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla to answer questions before Parliament next week.
Motshekga said the incident placed the lives of law-abiding people at risk.
“We need the minister and the two deputy ministers to appear before the committee in public to give a full account as to what they have been doing to address the tide of breakouts.
“This has been continuing for some time and poses a great risk to the public. It is unacceptable.
“The committee will also enquire about the extent to which the department has implemented policy guidelines that are clear as to what needs to be done.”
Motshekga said the committee would ask accounting officers to tell MPs how they planned to prevent more escapes.
“We will also enquire about investigations into what led to the escapes,” said Motshekga.
At least seven of the 16 prisoners were accused of murder. They are Nkosiyazi Phungula, 27, Ntobeko Hlatshwayo, 32, Sabelo Ngubane, 30, Martin Piliminta, 30, Nkosinathi Siphesihle Manyoni, 23, Sibonelo Nkosingiphile Thwala, 24, and Shonela Showe.
Last month, six prisoners escaped from Pollsmoor Prison after removing bars with a piece of metal obtained by breaking one of the beds.
DA MP James Selfe said the escapes had exposed weaknesses in the prison system. Parliament needed answers about the incidents to ensure greater security.
“There appears to be a trend of prison escapes which needs to be addressed immediately,” said Selfe.
The department said it was working hard to find the fugitives and rearrest them.
Spokesperson Logan Maistry said: “We launched an investigation immediately and that investigation is continuing. We are working around the clock with all relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure the speedy arrest of the 14.”
He said the department was prepared to appear before Parliament next week.
“We account to Parliament all the time and we will continue to do so accordingly,”