Warders fingered as key instigators

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

A member of parliament's correctional services portfolio committee has launched a probe into the recent violence at the notorious Waterval Prison outside Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal.

The investigation also focusses on the alleged involvement of warders, who are accused of fueling violence at the prison.

Portfolio committee member Inkosi Everton Xolo visited the prison at the weekend and is expected to compile a report on the situation.

Warders were fingered by prisoners and prison unions during last month's violence at the facility that left an inmate, Thamsanqa Dladla, 27, of Inanda, north of Durban, dead.

Dladla was due to be freed from the prison a few days before his stipulated released date.

It is also alleged that another inmate died at the prison two days after Dladla's death.

It is said that six prisoners have died at the centre since October last year in ongoing gang fights.

The family of Dladla and that of prisoner Khehla Miya, who died last year, want answers over their deaths. They say they were not informed on time about the injuries or deaths.

The probe by the portfolio committee follows Sowetan's report on the incidents.

Last week, the head of the committee, Dennis Bloem, expressed shock about issues at Waterval.

"We view the allegations seriously. We will do an in-depth investigation to prevent further humiliation of inmates. A detailed report will be released later this week," he said.

The Justice Department has established an inspectorate of prisons to deal with the wellbeing of prisoners and concerns from their families, he said.

Recently, the portfolio committee investigated the death of four inmates at the Krugersdorp Prison.

Six warders were arrested and charged. They allegedly assaulted the prisoners after they intervened in a gang fight.

Correctional services in KwaZulu-Natal would not comment on the issue. An official, who did not want his name published, said: "Warders do as they please. Some are guilty of perpetuating prison violence."