Minister issues stern warning to inmates

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bloemfontein - Correctional Service Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has issued a stern warning to inmates who resort to violence to express their grievances, saying that they will be charged by the department.

She said government would not listen or entertain offenders to hold officials hostage or go on hunger strikes rather than engaging in talks in a civil manner to put forward their cases.

The minister was speaking during a visit to the Mangaung Correctional Centre near Bloemfontein where earlier this month three wardens were taken hostage by a group of inmates in the high security section. They demanded to be transferred to prisons closer to their hometowns.

Two months ago, inmates embarked on a hunger strike in a bid to get government reclassify them so that they could be moved from the maximum security prison to a medium correctional centre.

Mapisa-Nqakula said this kind of dramatic behaviour would not be tolerated.

"Holding a human being hostage is a very serious crime and we have to take extra ordinary steps to make sure it does not happen again," she said.

However, the minister has launched an investigation to the grievances of the inmates with the Inspecting Judge.

The minister also visited the Grootvlei Correctional Centre where she raised concern over overcrowding at the centre, especially in the juvenile section where children as young as 15 are carrying out their sentences.