Daily Dispatch

Filthy toilets at EL court cells being repaired

- NONSINDISO QWABE COURT REPORTER nonsindiso­q@dispatch.co.za

Plumbers are hard at work repairing the sewage-polluted, dungeon-like holding cells below the East London magistrate’s courts.

The Dispatch recently exposed the shocking conditions in the dark, stinking, grimy, flooded cells after concerned state officials raised the alarm.

Prisoners – and police – called the condition of the cells, “worse than slavery”.

However, an official statement from the justice department has shed further light on why the cells were in such an appalling state. It seems that a reservoir had burst and airconditi­oners in the cells were also leaking.

On Wednesday, in response to questions from the Dispatch, justice spokespers­on Steve Mahlangu announced that the prisoners’ cells would be upgraded. He said a maintenanc­e project was under way. Toilets used by prisoners and staff in the undergroun­d cells were being repaired.

Mahlangu said they were “urgently instructin­g” contractor­s to prepare a complete scope of works.

The project would upgrade all the ablution facilities and paint the “entire cell block area”. A burst reservoir and leaking air-conditione­rs in the cells would also be repaired.

Mahlangu said the two main cells which had the worst blockages of toilets had been closed for repairs. “I can confirm that the cell blocks are closed. Currently, the department is working with police as custodians of allocation of cells in court to ensure the needs of prisoners are taken care of.”

A police officer who spoke to the Dispatch on a condition of anonymity said the cells had been closed for a week, with prisoners sharing the remaining four cells. “Since plumbers and repair men were brought in, working here has been more bearable.”

 ?? Picture: NONSINDISO QWABE ?? ARGH: One of the toilets in the East London magistrate’s court holding cells.
Picture: NONSINDISO QWABE ARGH: One of the toilets in the East London magistrate’s court holding cells.

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