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Portfolio committee to visit Groenpunt

The portfolio committee on correctional services will visit Groenpunt Prison in Free State which was set alight by rioting inmates, its chairman Vincent Smith said on Wednesday.

“The committee will visit the centre to assess measures put in place to defuse the situation, and to address all shortcomings that had led to the riot.

A police van and an emergency paramedic vehicle arrive at the entrance to Groenpunt Prison. Picture: Antoine de Ras. Credit: INLSA

“The Committee cannot condone, for whatever the reasons, the placing at risk of the lives of inmates and correctional officials, or the destruction of state property, “ he said.

Smith said the visit would take place next week “probably Tuesday or Monday”.

Prisoners refused to eat, then vandalised the facility in Deneysville on Monday, setting alight cells and offices and injuring four warders.

A total of 50 inmates were injured in police attempts to stop the riot. Prisoners had complained about the quality of food and about some prison officials. They also wanted a unit head to be fired.

Police were investigating the riots. Smith said the committee would wait for the outcome of the investigation which was already underway.

Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said prison riots would not be tolerated.

The behaviour of the prisoners was also condemned by Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, which described the violent protest as “appalling”.

The Democratic Alliance called for a commission of enquiry which would examine the root causes of the outbreak of violence in the prison. - Sapa

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