Westville Prison warder stabbings linked to request for Covid-19 test



Published Aug 20, 2020


What led to the first Westville Prison stabbing?

Durban - The stabbing that took place at Westville Prison last week was the result of months of tension finally boiling over, according to one of the inmates.

Two captains and five warders were stabbed by inmates on Thursday morning.

There was also an offender to offender stabbing that took place at the prison on Sunday morning.

The inmate said trouble started brewing back in February after an inmate from Medium B (C2 number 11) stabbed another.

From then on there were many issues surrounding that section, the inmates and prison officials.

After the stabbing in February, the inmate was sent to another prison but the section where the incident took place was placed under lockdown.

“One person does wrong and we are all punished,” said the inmate.

The inmate said the inmates from C2 number 11 asked to be tested for Covid-19 after they started experiencing symptoms but the department refused.

Instead they were locked up in isolation for 30 day without being charged.

After querying why they were locked up without being charged, they were charged and left there for another 30 days.

“That section is also known for drugs and drugs are sold there. And because some warders are involved with some of the inmates in the sale of drugs, drugs belonging to the competition are confiscated, the competition is arrested and it's either the drugs are recovered or given to another seller,” said the inmate.

He said all those issues - being locked up for a stabbing they were not involved in, being refused to be tested for Covid-19 and their drugs being confiscated led to the stabbing of the warders last Thursday.

“We heard from officials that some of them had downed tools, but who were they protesting for? We are not the ones who bring in weapons. And they know who stabbed them. They have been charged and they are in isolation,” said the inmate.

He said the warders said “you’re stabbing us, we’re downing tools and you’ll do the work” but they know the dangers of the job and they are the ones bringing in the knives.

“What’s upsetting is that inmates get stabbed all the time and they don’t get stabbed with spoons, windows or anything else, it’s knives. But you don’t hear a complaint from warders. One of the captains that was stabbed on Thursday always scared inmates that he carried an okapi and he was not afraid of them. But when they stabbed him, they asked if he was able to use the okapi they always scared them with, he ran away with it,” said the inmate.

Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Thulani Mdluli said the department executes its services guided by the policies and procedures.

“It must be clearly stated that the issue of testing Covid-19 is conducted by the department of health under certain procedures stipulated by the Health council on when and why a person must be tested. It therefore concerns us to find these unfortunate scenes paused upon hard work done so far by our ideal correctional officials,” said Mdluli.

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