Johannesburg - Three prisoners were injured during a raid at St Albans prison in Port Elizabeth, the correctional services department said on Monday.

“Four offenders grabbed the private clothes from an official. All four offenders attacked him,” said spokesman Manelisi Wolela in a statement.

“All inmates came advancing to him and… officials had to apply minimum force including tonfa (batons) to calm the situation.”

Three prisoners were injured and taken to a clinic for medical attention. The official did not sustain any injuries.

Wolela said an impromptu raid was being carried out on Sunday when the incident took place.

“The offenders refused to get searched as they claimed that they are being searched every week,” said Wolela.

“Security reinforcements were called in and the cell was ultimately searched.”

Officials found a pair of scissors, three sharpened plates, three knives, a sharpened fork, a home-made knife, one screwdriver, one padlock on a string, and one cellphone in the cell.

“After the incident, 108 of the 408 offenders took their meals and the rest refused to eat,” said Wolela.

“To ensure better management of the situation public and family visits have been suspended until further notice.”

Raids at prisons were being intensified to get rid of contraband items, he said. - Sapa