Prison chief in trouble for locking up colleagues

Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

The head of a correctional services centre in East London is in trouble after claims that he has been locking gates to prevent staff from leaving during working hours.

The spokesman for the Eastern Cape Department of Correctional Services, Zukisa Nduneni, yesterday said it came to the department's attention last week that the head of East London Maximum Centre Sedrick Amsterdam was locking up his staff.

"He did not want the staff members to sort out their personal problems such as fetching their children from school during work hours.

"He did not like it because there were allegations that some of them did not report to him," Nduneni said.

She said disciplinary action would be taken against the head of the correctional centre, adding that locking up staff was against the law.

She was not sure how long this had been going on but believed it had happened a few times in the past few weeks. Staff members knew their rights and could not have let the practice continue for too long.

Nduneni was also not sure how many staff members had been affected by the problem.

"But I believe that the day staff was the most affected," she said.

Staff members contacted by were not willing to discuss the matter.

Amsterdam could also not be reached for comment.

The provincial secretary of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), Tshaka Mdiya, said the organisation had heard about the locking up of staff members at the correctional centre last Friday.

Mdiya said that, according to the information they had received, members were locked up so that they could not take part in the mass action by government employees.

He said they were not aware that the practice had been happening for some time.

"Even preventing people from taking part in the strike was bad. What if someone was sick on the day of the strike and had to see a doctor?

"That person's rights were violated," said Mdiya.

He said that as they understood it, staff members who wanted to attend to personal problems during working hours could make arrangements with their supervisors.