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Limpopo - Starving inmates at Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre in Louis Trichardt have threatened to burn down the prison facility.

They claim prison guards left them to starve behind locked cells and went on strike.

Kutama Sinthumule is a private facility operated by the South African Custodial Management (SACM) company.

It’s home to more than 3 000 extremely dangerous criminals who serve maximum sentences for crimes ranging from rape to murder, according to workers there.

Two inmates who phoned The Star on Wednesday said that the last time they had a meal was at 4pm on Tuesday.

An inmate who is serving a 25-year jail sentence for hijacking and murder said some of his fellow inmates had not taken medication as a result.

“They have locked us in here and people are restless. We will burn this prison if they don’t give us food,” he said.

Another man, also serving time for murder, said he sympathised with the employees, but they needed food.

“What these guys (guards) don’t realise is that inmates may start fighting against each other out of frustration. That would be an ugly situation,” he said.

A Kutama Sinthumule employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, said they wanted risk, medical and housing benefits.

“There is a group of people who started working here since 2002 who still don’t have pension today,” he said.

The employee said workers had gone on strike after SACM managing director Pieter Jordan failed to show up to address their grievances.

“He doesn’t take us seriously, even to date he hasn’t arrived.”

Attempts to contact Jordan for a comment were unsuccessful.

A prison official who identified herself as Florence Nalana said she was not permitted to give out Jordan’s cellphone number to third parties.

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The Star