prison pipe burst

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Johannesburg Prison, which known as Sun City, has been without water since Sunday.

Prisoners have had to use buckets to fetch water for drinking and washing from the rugby field because there is no running water in their cells.

A prison warder who did not want to be named said the situation was unbearable. "It is crisis. The toilets are not flushing and it is just a mess," he said.

Maintenance and facilities manager Tonie Venter denied that the situation had reached a crisis point. He said the authorities were doing everything in their power to control the situation.

"The main pipe that supplies the correctional centres with water burst on Sunday midnight and we had to close the water supply to fix it," he said.

He said officials became aware of the burst pipe on Monday morning and immediately worked on the problem.

"We admit there is a problem but it is manageable," he said. "There are interim arrangements for everyone to have water."

Venter said the pipe was two metres underground and a contractor was working on it and the problem would be solved soon.

He said the prison had arranged for tankers to provide drinking water.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights union (Popcru) national spokesman Benzi Soko said: "It does not matter whether the water was out for 30 minutes or an hour, the fact is that the situation is a health hazard to prisoners."