stench at prison

Chester Makana

Chester Makana

Warders at Matashe prison, outside Thohoyandou, are forced to fetch water from a nearby river to flush toilets.

This has been going on for the past three months. The warders say this situation puts the health of 2500 prisoners at risk.

They have accused the Thulamela municipality of failing to provide the basic commodity.

A source in the prison said sometimes officials were forced to fetch water from the Mutshundudi River for use in the toilets "but the situation becomes intolerable in the evening".

"The problem of a water shortage started a long time ago and we have been experiencing it regularly," said a warder who wished to remain unidentified.

Prison spokesman Mashudu Mathivha confirmed yesterday that they did not receive water regularly and that they depended on the water kept in tanks at the prison.

"The situation is really not good; we are not sure whether the water is safe for human consumption or not," he said.

"We sometimes have to depend on ground water," said Mathivha.

Mathivha said the prison was adversely affected because it did not have an alternative water supply inside the grounds.

He said they have had to endure the stench inside the prison for the duration of their working hours.

Mathivha said they were even forced to carry water in containers to work but it was not enough to support the prison population.

"It is difficult to stop prisoners from using the toilets because there is no water.

"How would you expect them to survive without water?" he asked.

The officials said the problem of water shortage started two years ago.

They said for the past three months there had been no supply at all.

Sowetan learnt that villages around the area were also experiencing water shortages.

Municipality spokesman Ndwamato Tshiila said they had not received any complaints about a water shortage from the prison management .

"We know the prison experienced water shortages a long time ago but that problem has been resolved," said Tshiila.