IN­MATES, WARDERS

Observer on Saturday - - News - Sto­ries by Sicelo Maziya

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

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.

Shared

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.

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