Balfour has new plan to prevent prison escapes in festive season

Mvuyo Mati

Mvuyo Mati

Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour will introduce tougher security measures at all Eastern Cape prisons.

The Correctional Service Department said the launch of the new measures, to be held at the Mdantsane Correctional Centre on Friday, was intended to protect the public from the potential threat posed by escaping prisoners.

The security measures come barely two weeks after an escape by six prisoners from Mthatha's Wellington Correction Centre. The prisoners escaped by cutting through a steel window.

Eastern Cape's correctional services spokesman Zukisa Nduneni said Balfour was also concerned that escapes by prisoners placed an extra burden on police resources.

These escapes further divert attention, in terms of human and material resources, from more critical crime prevention operations to the tracing and tracking of notorious and dangerous offenders, she quoted the minister as saying.

Nduneni said the Correctional Department was determined to prevent an escalation of escapes occurring in the festive season.

Balfour will also launch a boxing tournament at the Mdantsane Correctional Centre "as a means of promoting the rehabilitation of prisoners through sports", she said.

Members of the public have been invited to watch three professional bouts - financed by Boxing South Africa - as well as amateur bouts between former prisoners from the Emabanjweni Rehabilitation Boxing Stable.

Nduneni said the the new measures also hoped to decrease the number of escape attempts "by encouraging sports and recreational activities".