5 warders to face the music

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Five prison warders are to face a disciplinary hearing over the death last month of inmate Senzo Mazibuko, 28, at the New Prison in Pietermaritzburg.

This was announced yesterday by correctional services provincial commissioner Nkosinathi Nhleko after the completion of an internal investigation.

Mazibuko died in the prison hospital after he was allegedly assaulted by warders for being involved in a gang-related fight.

Initially nine officials allegedly linked to Mazibuko's death were suspended. The investigation finally drew up a list of five warders.

The probe into his death was launched three weeks ago.

The investigation was launched by the department after reports that Mazibuko was beaten to death by warders, who were trying to separate inmates who were fighting.

Other prisoners also sustained serious injuries that were treated in the prison's hospital.

The investigation claims that Mazibuko was taken into an office by prison warders and assaulted again.

He was then taken to the prison hospital, where he collapsed and died.

Nhleko said: "Our investigation has revealed that the prisoner was taken into a certain office where he was allegedly beaten up.

"There are five officials that need to account for the death of this inmate."

Nhleko revealed that a police investigation was still in process.

He said at this stage they could not link Mazibuko's death directly to an assault - until a postmortem report revealed the cause of death.

"We were able to find out that there was a gang-related fight between the deceased and another offender.

"A padlock hidden in the the deceased's socks was allegedly used to assault another inmate during the fight.

Our investigation is to ensure that people are held accountable," he said.

There was no evidence that a senior prison official instructed other officials to assault Mazibuko to "teach him a lesson" - as was reported, said Nhleko.