Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices to ac­count to Par­lia­ment for prison es­capes

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - MARY JANE MPHAHLELE

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,”

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