Mangaung Maximum Security Prison

Bloemfontein - Correctional services has handed full control of the Mangaung prison to G4S after taking over management of the privately run prison outside Bloemfontein last year, the department said on Friday.

“As a department, we are satisfied that the issues that led to our take-over of the Mangaung correctional centre have been resolved and we will continue to work with G4S to ensure a phased handover and operation of the facility,” national commissioner Zach Modise said.

The handover was effective from Friday.

The regional president of security company G4S Africa, Andy Baker, said it had agreed to re-employ 326 dismissed employees.

“We would like to thank the department for its leadership on this matter throughout this period and we will continue to work with the department and our labour partners, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), to ensure that operations are stabilised,” he said.

Baker said the company and union would work with an outside facilitator to continue to improve employee relations.

The department started to withdraw in phases by the end of July, having run the prison for 10 months.

According to a report on G4S's running of the prison, there were violations of its contract with the department and the Correctional Services Act.

The department took over management of the prison from G4S in October last year. One of the main reasons was a concern for the safety of inmates and staff.

In September, G4S dismissed 330 Popcru members after they refused to return to work at the prison following a strike. During the strike, the facility, which houses nearly 2000 inmates, was run with limited staff. A riot broke out.

In October, a female warder was taken hostage by inmates for 13 hours. A police special task force rescued her unharmed.

A “complex investigation” was completed and a report handed to Bloemfontein Corrections Contract, a G4S company. It was given 21 days to reply to the report.

The Mangaung maximum security prison has about 3000 inmates.

G4S runs the prison as part of a consortium under a 25-year contract signed in 2000.