553 prison beds for cup

MORE than 500 beds have been reserved at Nelspruit Prison for offenders who might find themselves on the wrong side of the law during the World Cup in the host city.

This emerged at a security cluster meeting that was presided over by Mpumalanga MEC for safety, security and liaison Sibongile Manana, pictured, at Nelspruit correctional services on Friday.

The meeting was attended by security structures including crime intelligence, the independent complaints directorate, justice, correctional services, customs services and other departments.

The area commissioner for correctional services in Barberton, Nelspruit and Lydenburg, Sonnyboy Mdawe, announced during the meeting that 553 beds had been reserved at the prison.

"We have made available 505 beds for male offenders and 48 beds for female offenders at Nelspruit correctional services.

"We have transferred more than 400 prisoners from the Nelspruit correctional services to other facilities such as Bethal, Witbank and Barberton to make way for the offenders during the soccer games," Mdawe said.

He explained that the prison's officials would make sure they did not mix females, juveniles and hardened criminals.

Manana said a challenge that needed to be addressed urgently was the lack of interpreters.

"Time is against us," she said.

She instructed director for court operations Nomkhosi Shange to convene an urgent meeting to deal with the issue.

Correctional services spokesperson Reuben Mvula said security had been upgraded at the prison.