Official pledges to help inmates

KWAZULU-NATAL correctional services commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele has reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that inmates are incorporated into society as rehabilitated people.

15 July 2010

Inmates at Durban Westville Prison claim they are treated like caged animals, while their rights are being violated by prison officials who deny them access to medication and other services.

Nxele said there was no way inmates could be denied medical attention because Westville Prison had two 24-hour hospitals.

"Offenders are not being treated less humanly. We are aware that the society might think that offenders are horrible people, but that does not exist when they come into the centre.

"Centres were built to rehabilitate inmates and make them better people than before," he said.

Nxele said prison officials even took care of inmates who engaged in food protests and became seriously ill.

"We are entrusted with the job to revive their humanity. All officials joined the department because they wanted to play a role in changing the lives of the offenders, he said."

He acknowledged that there were prison officials who worked against the mandate and stated policies.

Nxele reaffirmed his commitment to fighting corruption at the centre.

He called on the offenders to contact him to explain their concerns.

Nxele said he had an open door policy for offenders and officials in the region.

"My contact numbers are known. Recently we have been visiting centres to engage inmates but no one raised concerns.

"We have been able in the past to deal with gang-related fights in the centre and we continue doing that. There is no way that we can allow wrongdoing by our officials.

"We have systems in place to deal with unacceptable behaviour by officials," Nxele said.