Prisoner dies on day he is jailed

Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

Hours after he was jailed for 15 years a prisoner died after allegedly inhaling smoke in his cell at St Alban's Maximum Prison in Port Elizabeth.

Police spokesman Verna Brink, said the inmate, Moses King Menze, 33, from Ramaphosa Street at Chris Hani near Motherwell, was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment on Monday.

Brink said prison officials had placed Menze alone in a temporary cell when the tragedy occurred.

"Prison officials usually place new inmates in different sections, but he [Menze] arrived late and had to be placed alone in a cell on Monday night.

"He was going to be placed with other prisoners in a permanent cell the next day," said Brink.

She said Menze had a box of matches with him and that he may have accidentally set fire to his mattress.

Menze inhaled the smoke and when officials came to his rescue it was too late. He died in the passage outside his cell.

Brink said foul play was not suspected .

"Right now we don't know what caused the fire but we don't think he committed suicide."