Big Bend Correctional Services is faced with a water crisis, a challenge that has continued to be ignored for the past six months by authorities of the department.
The situation has been compromised such that warders and prisoners are now getting used to the use of dirty and contaminated water drawn directly from the Usuthu River for consumption. The water crisis at this correctional facility is said to be a result of engine pumps on the water treatment plant that broke down.
The engine pumps of the water treatment plant are reported to have developed mechanical problems that have never been repaired.
Sources within the institution state that the water treatment plant is one of the challenges faced and exacerbated by the lies the correctional services department has perpetuated and mastered as it siphons government funds with useless recruitment drives. The source said the correctional department has requested posts from government with specialised fields yet recruited ordinary people of their choice instead of qualified people as per their request to the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
The sources within the correctional services said the water challenge at Big Bend continues despite there being ‘specialised’ professionals that were hired for improving the piping at the correctional facility.
“Why would it take more than six months to tackle such challenges when we were told some people were hired for this and posts created for officers with the responsibility to fix such repairs and maintenance,” adds the source.
It is said when the water crisis started warders were forced to have buckets for flashing their toilets as their taps were dry for almost a month. The correctional services officers at Big Bend confirmed the water crises when the investigations team visited the centre. They further revealed that they are now getting drinking water from a Eswatini Water Services Corporation (EWSC) tanker, stating that water for household use is now drawn straight from the nearby Usuthu River.
The facility is littered with idle water tanks that are now costing the tax payer as some have broken down. The water crisis has exposed one of the clandestine failing projects of the correctional services funded by the tax payer and never monitored and investigated by the government from its tendering period to its implementation phases.
Another source within the correctional services alleged that the institution has a number of projects that have flouted a lot of government procedures. The source said the irregularities at the correctional department will never be rooted out as they implicate the leadership of the correctional department with corruption.
The source said many classical cases can be shared if the new government can be serious about corruption than the outgoing government.
The source alleged that a number of corruption cases have been reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Royal Eswatini Police services (REPS), but the bodies have failed to process them for prosecution. The source alleged that some of the officers that were tasked with investigating the corruption cases within the department deserted the police service and are now holding senior positions within the correctional services. The sources further alleged that the water challenge is one of the many failing projects that were initiated and disguised as means of saving government funds yet it was a plotfrom for the leadership to land their dirty hands into monies to start the failing projects.
The source revealed a number of projects that are a drain to the tax payer yet they are said to be reducing the costs of running the corrections services institutions.
“Why would the costs continue to rise in every national budget when we are said to be reducing the costs for government to run the prisons. We are actually taking more monies from the tax payer to the hands of the leadership of the prison which is now being run like a cartel,” adds the source.
The source said the correctional services must be investigated by a competent body to expose the rot that is going on at the local prisons. The source alleged many projects that are carried out at the correctional services are below standard and if inspectors could be given a chance to inspect some of the houses that were given to some of the companies it could be a disgrace.
The source said competent independent probe within the correctional services can reveal a number of irregularities and a number of warders can disclose a lot of wrongs if they can be guaranteed protection as victimisation has been the order for individuals who have been vocal on issues of the welfare of officers.
“Look at the Correctional Staff Association where it is now, it was destroyed by the leadership, not even one of the members has not been victimised and their lives are a living hell daily,” added our source.