Three people have been confirmed dead and no fewer than twenty-six injured in a clash between prisoners and wardens at the St Albans Prison in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday.
The state health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo confirmed this adding that a number of emergency service personnel had been dispatched to St Albans Prison following a fracas between inmates and guards on Monday.
Kupelo also confirmed that one inmate is believed to have died from a much sustained injury at the hospital facility on site, while two other inmates died from their injuries after being transferred to the Livingstone hospital for further treatment
St Albans prisons is known for its long history of inmates attacking their guards and has the reputation of being the most violent correctional facility in the Eastern Cape.
Though the circumstances surrounding the brawl in the prison is still unclear, ten out of the twenty-six wardens are said to be in critical condition while several others with minor injuries have been transported to nearby hospital for proper care.
The incident is believed to have started in the C Max section of the prison during the breakfast session following initial reports that a prisoner stabbed a warder, sparking a free for all. Prisoners, believed to have been armed with shanks – homemade stabbing implements – attacked the wardens, who retaliated.
The Eastern Cape Correctional Services Provincial Commissioner, Nkosinathi Breakfast, who has visited the wardens said that department would only be issuing a statement on the matter on Tuesday though families of the inmates keep lurking around the prison to verify the safety of their loved ones.
The prison management has however locked down the prison gates, allowing no visitor in. Sources said it was a well-known fact that inmates pick up rank among the prison gangs if they drew blood from their guards.
DA spokesperson on correctional services, James Selfe, said that he’s been “deeply concerned by reports that one inmate has been killed and another critically injured at the St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth”.
He said the DA would “request that the Department conduct a full and thorough investigation into the events that led to this death and injury”.
“It is not the first time that violent events have occurred at this prison and we cannot allow such incidents to go unaccounted for,” Selfe said.
“The DA will further be writing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services to request the Minister to appear before the Committee as soon as possible at the start of 2017 to account to Parliament for the events,” he added.