The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) on Monday took issue with Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS’s) shift pattern model after five staff members were stabbed at the weekend.
In a statement, Popcru said the staff had intervened in a gang-related altercation between inmates at Johannesburg Prison (also known as Sun City).
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"This altercation happened at a time when half of the staff complement was off-duty, in line with the DCS’s shift pattern model‚ with a small number of officials having to overlook just below 500 inmates in the specific section that saw this altercation‚" said spokesperson Richard Mamabolo.
He said in there were only two shifts, with half of the staff at home and the other half at work at any given time. This resulted in regular staff shortages, which were compounded by understaffing and overcrowding.
Mamabolo said that with correctional services training able to accommodate only 1000 trainees per year, understaffing was unlikely to be addressed in the near future.
He said the problem of gangsterism in correctional facilities had to be tackled using proper rehabilitation processes‚ and not just by installing surveillance systems.
"The DCS needs to focus on its core business of rehabilitating inmates‚" said Mamabolo.
"Inmates should not remain indolent in correctional facilities‚ but do consistent work that will ensure these facilities become self-sufficient.
"They must contribute towards the running costs and decent upkeep of these centres as this will contribute towards their rehabilitation and skills development."