Correctional Services said that “matters are under control” at Johannesburg’s Sun City Prison on Wed.
As government continued to claim that crime is going down, the opposition lambasted it for "bullying First National Bank (FNB) into stopping a R20million campaign against crime".
"It is a sad, but very telling commentary about the state of South Africa's democracy. Thirteen years after democracy an institution like FNB gets reduced from lion to mouse in the hands of a bullying government," said DA spokesman on crime, Dianne Kohler-Barnard.
But Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka yesterday said the government knew nothing about the campaign.
"We just saw the story this morning, so we have no comment," she said.
The Azanian Peoples Organisation (Azapo) and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) have also condemned the move to stop the campaign. The bank had commissioned more than two million pamphlets addressed to the president to be inserted into major newspapers questioning the public about crime. But this was canned on Friday.
Sunday Times reported yesterday that FNB was on Friday warned by government agents of a showdown with President Mbeki because of the campaign.
The newspaper quoted government spokesman Themba Maseko saying the bank's behaviour was "trying to incite people to behave in a certain way towards the head of state [which] cannot be condoned".
FirstRand's chief executive Paul Harris took responsibility for the campaign and said he was ready for the consequences.
The DA's spokesman added: "Until the president begins to understand that it is the public he is responsible for protecting, and not his reputation, the situation will not improve."
Azapo's Pandelani Nefolovhodwe said FNB had the democratic right to withdraw the advertisement if it received additional information to warrant it.
"But it should not have done so if there was pressure," he said.
PAC secretary of political affairs Mudini Maivha said: "The government's bullying tactics are not acceptable and South Africans are not going to stand up against crime only when the ANC and the government says so. "