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Mangaung prison stabbing under investigation

Staff Reporter

Free State police and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) are investigating circumstances that led to the fatal stabbing of an inmate at the privately run Mangaung Correctional Centre last weekend.

The inmate was allegedly stabbed with a sharp object last Saturday by another inmate under unclear circumstances.

The inmate suffered injuries to the upper body and was rushed to hospital where he died several hours later.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Sam Makhele said in a written response to The Free Stater investigations are still underway to establish what exactly happened on the day and the people involved.

“The investigating officer has informed me that they haven’t charged the suspects yet as they are still busy with the investigation,” said Makhele in a brief response.

Earlier, he said by telephone that investigating incidents that happen in prison is very difficult because they need reliable witnesses to assist them with information.

He said obtaining information in such serious cases usually takes time as the police have to do a thorough job to establish what happened, the people involved and any possible witnesses.

DCS spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo confirmed the fatality by telephone and said they were also investigating the incident.

“The DCS can confirm the incident and that investigations are underway to establish what exactly happened on the day,” said Nxumalo without divulging further detail.

It also remains unclear if the incident could be gang-related or a result of a security breach in the correctional centre.

The number of inmates involved in the alleged fracas is also unknown.

The Mangaung prison is run by the Bloemfontein Corrections Centre (BCC) under a public-private partnership.

The DCS and the BCC entered into a concession contract on March 24, 2000 in respect of the design, construction, operation, maintenance and financing of the prison.

The BCC then appointed G4 Correction Services Proprietary Limited (G4S) to perform all operational and maintenance responsibilities under the contract.

The initial 25-year contract expires in 2025 and the DCS has previously said the contract will not be extended.

This follows reports of violations against inmates.

The violations — contained in a report produced after an extensive investigation — were said to be so bad that in October 2013 the DCS took over the running of the facility and returned it to the contractor in August 2014.

The report into the conditions at the correctional facility states, among other disturbing findings, that inmates were assaulted by staff, forcibly injected with medication and locked in a cell without a toilet, lighting, windows or ventilation.

The BCC denied most of the findings and said the other shortcomings had been addressed.

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