Department of Correctional Services officials are now receiving managment training to assist them in coping with the increasing stress of dealing with large volumes of prisoners. A warder at an East London Prison keeps a close eye on prisoners. 241006 Picture: Steve Lawrence

Port Elizabeth - Two inmates were killed and 65 were injured in a mass fight started by gangsters in a Port Elizabeth jail on Friday, a prison official said.

“Two awaiting trial detainees died, and we took 17 to hospital for observation,” said regional prisons commissioner Nkosinati Breakfast, saying a total of 65 prisoners were injured.

The fight broke out in six cells each with around 38 inmates simultaneously in the late afternoon at the St Albans prison in Port Elizabeth, which holds 2 083 awaiting trial prisoners, in the Eastern Cape province.

“We have not established yet what caused the fight but what we know is the people who initiated the fight is the 28 gang,” Breakfast told AFP, referring to one of South Africa's notorious prison gangs.

Padlocks, sharp objects and broomsticks were used in the fight.

The fight could not be put down to a confrontation between rival gangs as “everybody was affected” in the cells where the violence broke out, said Breakfast.

“They were just hitting everybody randomly in the cell, whether you a gang (member) or not a gang (member) or are another gang or not.... Other people were defending themselves,” he said.

South African prison violence made headlines on Friday when officials said an inmate had died after being assaulted by warders, following an attack on a warder at a Free State province prison where a riot broke out last week. - Sapa-AFP