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Prisons department backtracks on Mathe

By unknown | Dec 12, 2006 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Kamva Mokoena

Kamva Mokoena

The Department of Correctional Services appears to be backtracking on sending the notorious jail-breaker Ananias Mathe to Kokstad's eBongweni Prison in southern KwaZulu-Natal.

Manelisi Wolela, a spokesman for the department, said Mathe was still in Pretoria's C-Max and there was no need to "worry about him moving to KwaZulu-Natal".

He said: "The minister was giving his personal view when he said Mathe deserves to rot in Kokstad. This was a personal sentiment on the part of the minister and not a decision to send Mathe to Kokstad."

Mathe escaped from C-Max Prison and was rearrested two weeks later.

Built in 1999, eBongweni cost the government R350million. It is estimated that R23million was spent on security for the prison.

Teboho Kanetsi, chairman of the United Democratic Party in Kokstad, said he was not convinced that Kokstad was safer than C-Max in Pretoria.

He said: "eBongweni C-Max has infrastructure problems, like water and electricity, problems that Balfour promised to fix but has not."

Mandla Galo, chairman of the African Independent Congress, said electricity cuts were a major problem at the prison.

"When the electricity goes off, surely the cameras will also go off so Mathe can escape again. This is a waste of taxpayers' money," he said.

The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights has asked why the authorities are so confident that Mathe will not escape from Kokstad.

"It is clear he had help at Pretoria C-Max. Why would it be different in Kokstad?" the organisation asked.

But Mbulelo Sithole, the mayor of Kokstad, said: "Mathe will have no chance of escaping from Kokstad.

"Electricity problems have nothing to do with security. Our municipality is busy constructing another electricity sub-station, which will relieve the load on the existing one."


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