Masutha orders probe into fatal prison stabbing

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha has instructed National Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser to investigate the fatal stabbing of a warder at Goedemoed Correctional Centre in Aliwal North, Eastern Cape, on Friday.

In a statement issued on Saturday, in which the Minister conveyed condolences to the family of the deceased warden, Masutha said the intervention was meant to establish the facts surrounding the incident and to expeditiously get to the bottom of it.

Another female warder was seriously wounded during the attack and is receiving medical attention.

“On behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services, I wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to the family of our official, who lost her life while performing her official duties.

“Her family and colleagues are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. I would also like to wish a speedy recovery to the other official, who is recovering after sustaining stab wounds in the same incident.”

Fraser and senior members of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) management have been at the correctional facility since Friday night. Trauma counselling and other relevant employee assistance is continuing.

Masutha said the safety of staff is of paramount importance and the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services takes any attack on officials very seriously.

“We expect a full assessment of the protocols regulating the interaction of officials and inmates at Goedemoed Correctional Centre. We cannot afford to have a similar incident recurring at any point. Therefore, we have to find the glitch in our systems that placed our two officials in harm's way,” said Masutha.

The Minister called on those who are spreading “baseless statements” to act with sensitivity and show respect to the families of the affected officials.  

"We have already established that it is not true that the incident at the Goedemoed facility happened because of overcrowding. The population of offenders at the centre is at 97.41% capacity; it is not overcrowded. Let all of us await the official report and not give in to the temptation to venture into uninformed speculation," Masutha said.

The Minister has also instructed the DCS training colleges to increase their intake of learnerships from once to twice a year.

“This will assist in beefing up the number of boots on the ground and alleviate staff shortages,” the department said. –