'It's chaos' - one dead as prison gangs clash at Leeuwkop

File photo of Leeuwkop prison gate near Lonehill in Johannesburg.
File photo of Leeuwkop prison gate near Lonehill in Johannesburg.
Image: Mabuti Kali/Sunday World

Specialised tactical officers from the Correctional Services Department have been called into Leeuwkop prison after a gang related riot left one prisoner dead and another critically injured.

The publication understands the fights in the prison’s Medium B section broke out early on Tuesday evening.

Prisoners inside the facility‚ along with their family members‚ said the riot was over control of the prison’s drug trade. The publication has learnt that earlier this month a warder and another prisoner were seriously injured in the current drug control war.

Police and Prison Civil Rights Union spokesman Richard Mamabolo said one prisoner had died after his throat was slit with a bottle and another prisoner was seriously injured.

“The riots were over drugs and highlight the growing dangers in the country’s horribly over-populated prison‚" said Mamabolo.

He added: “Warders across the Eastern Cape have gone on strike because of dangerous conditions inside. There are some prisons which are totally unmanageable. The working conditions are deadly‚ but‚ as usual‚ the department [of correctional services] doesn’t act until there are casualties‚ like tonight."

Correctional Services spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said: “The deceased suffered serious stabbed wounds on his neck. Such conduct by offenders is unacceptable. This incident has been reported to the SAPS and an investigation is currently underway.

“The department will also launch its own internal investigation which shall determine if this was gang-related or not‚ and will take firm action against those implicated.”

He said additional officials had been deployed to monitor the situation.

Debbie Fourie‚ whose husband is imprisoned in Leeuwkop‚ said she was terrified for her husband’s safety.

Fourie‚ who runs a support group for women whose husbands are imprisoned in the prison‚ said they were terrified for their loved ones.

“We have heard‚ through our communication networks‚ that it’s chaos. The fight broke out in one cell but has spread to others. We are receiving reports of prisoners being badly injured and killed.”

She said from what the husbands of two in the group had said‚ there was more than one person killed.

“Prisons need to be safe not places where gangs rule.”

This is a developing story.

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