Cape Town - Nearly 400 inmates at Brandvlei Prison were evacuated on Monday night amid a raging fire that ripped through the Worcester mountainside.
Cape Winelands District Municipality spokesperson, Jo-Anne Otto, said the blaze, which broke out on January 29, spread along the ridge of the Brandvlei mountains and affected the prison grounds, while the facility was unharmed.
“The Brandvlei fire started last Monday, January 29, and quickly spread along the ridge of the Brandvlei mountains to the right of the facility, towards Rawsonville, where the fire line split into two sections.
“One line moved into the area of Louwshoek and another continued on the ridge.
“Firefighters battled for most of last week and the weekend to bring the fire under control.
“On Monday, due to a change in wind direction, a part of the fire spread down the mountain and into the Brandvlei Prison’s grounds.”
She said that a small, corrugated structure, used for storage, burned to the ground and by 10pm the fire around the facility was contained.
Otto said the municipality did not speculate on the cause of the fire, and did not issue an evacuation instruction.
“No evacuation instruction was issued by the fire authority. There may have been internal movement of inmates, but this was undertaken by the staff of the prison and not on the instruction of the CWDM Fire Services.”
Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, visited the facility on Tuesday after the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) indicated that they evacuated some inmates who were at risk of smoke inhalation.
During his walkabout on Tuesday, he applauded staff for ensuring the safety of inmates, saying they prevented injuries and escapes.
“We applaud our officials for their dedication and efforts for without their swift action, we would have experienced more damage to our facility and possibly escapes by inmates.
“They have shown that indeed they are fit for purpose and are committed to creating safer communities in the country and they ensured that all inmates are accounted for.”
Lamola said inmates housed at the Medium B Centre were most at risk and as a precaution, they evacuated 394 offenders from the Medium B, Youth Centre and some from Maximum Centres to neighbouring correctional facilities.
All the other inmates remained at the centre.
“DCS can confirm that all offenders who are still incarcerated at Brandvlei are safe and healthy and appeals for their families and loved ones to remain calm. The Cape Winelands Fire Department is still on the premises, observing and monitoring the veld fires. They will continue to monitor the situation until the fire is fully put out.”