Boreholes needed as prison water shortage takes its toll
Cape Town - Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said his department has started surveying ground water availability in the Eastern Cape in order to drill boreholes in an attempt to overcome water shortages felt at its prisons.
Lamola revealed this when responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP James Selfe, who asked whether any correctional centres in the Eastern Cape were confronted with water shortages.
Selfe had enquired about immediate and longer-term steps that were being taken to alleviate the water shortages and whether the shortages have had any effect on discipline and operations of the specified correctional centres.
In his reply, Lamola confirmed that the prisons have been affected by water shortages.
He said the centres that were affected under OR Tambo District Municipality were Lusikisiki, Flagstaff, Mqanduli and Ngqeleni.
"The major challenge is the capacity of water treatment plants that cannot cope with the demand. However, the department has bought water tankers for those centres to augment when there is no municipal supply," Lamola said.
He also said other affected prisons under the Chris Hani District Municipality were Sada, Queenstown, Dordrect, Cofimvamba, Lady Frere, Engcobo, and Middelburg.
"The biggest challenge in this district is the high demand versus the capacity of the plant and ageing municipal infrastructure."
Lamola added that under Amathole District Municipality, the affected prisons were Idutywa, Butterworth and Middledrift.
"The biggest challenge is drought (drying up of dams which causes silting). The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has also bought water tankers for those centres to augment when there is no municipal supply," he said.
Under the Nelson Mandela metro, the St Albans Medium A, St Albans Medium B, and St Albans Maximum also experienced water shortages.
"The main challenges are lack of rainfall and this started at the beginning of this year. DCS is procuring Jojo tanks and three water tankers and is in talks with the municipality for alternative ways of supply."
Lamola said the immediate intervention undertaken by the department was procurement of storage tanks and water tankers for various areas.
"Medium to long term plans are to survey ground water availability in order to drill boreholes. The process of surveying has started at St Albans," he said.
Lamola stated that municipalities, as water services authorities, needed to upgrade their water treatment plants to be in line with the population demand and maintenance of plants thereof.
He, however, said prisoners were addressed regarding the problem of water in the Nelson Mandela Bay and how this would affect the normal running of the activities in the correctional centre.
"They were also alerted of attempts that were being made to mitigate the risk of no water. The briefing made offenders not to revolt or be aggressive as they see that even though there is no running water, (water) is provided for drinking and bathing."
Lamola also said water shortages in prisons could compromise security and the entire operations of facilities as there could be no steam to prepare food, no hot water generation for bathing and the hygiene of prisoners could be severely compromised.