Probe launched after prisoners stab three St Albans warders

Officials attacked while locking up inmates after daily exercise session

An investigation has been launched after inmates stabbed three warders at St Albans prison
An investigation has been launched after inmates stabbed three warders at St Albans prison
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Three correctional services officials were stabbed by inmates at St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth on Thursday morning.

The incident took place after inmates had completed their mandatory daily exercise programme at about 11.30am and while the officials were busy locking up the prisoners.

The number of inmates involved in the incident has not yet been disclosed. “All three officials are receiving medical attention and are reported to be in a stable condition,” correctional services department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said.

“The department will ensure that they receive the best care possible.

“Although the inmates involved have been identified, an internal investigation has been established to shed more light on the incident.

“This incident has also been reported to the police for a criminal case to be pursued.

“This is a clear act of hooliganism that shall never be tolerated by the department and it is strongly condemned.

“Correctional services will leave no stone unturned in making sure that all those involved are brought to book and the law takes its course.”

He said the department would continue to monitor the behaviour of offenders and root out any elements that might threaten the safety of prison officials and other inmates.

Nxumalo said the department had been appalled by the incident, which had taken place in the maximum security section of the sprawling facility.

“This is quite strange as incidents of this nature usually occur in sections such as the medium security section where offenders are not as settled as those in maximum security.

“Reasons for [the attack] are things like offenders trying to prove themselves or assert some sort of authority among themselves.”

Nxumalo said while the inmates at the scene of the attack had been identified, the actual number of those directly involved had not yet been determined and this would also form part of the investigation.

“The investigation will also look at what weapons were used and how those weapons came to be in the prisoner’s possession.

“The investigation will also determine if and how the attack was planned.

“These types of incidents are not usually just random attacks – there is usually a plan that has been formulated.”

He said once the investigation had been completed, those identified as having been involved would be charged and appear in court.

“Those found guilty could face additional prison sentences.

“We also have other internal disciplinary measures we can apply within in the correctional centre. These could include the removal of privileges.”

During May 2017, two prison warders were stabbed with knives by inmates in the Medium A section at St Albans where awaiting-trial prisoners are detained.

During late December in 2016, three people were killed and a further 26 injured in a clash between prisoners and warders at the same prison, which has come to be regarded as the most violent correctional facility in the Eastern Cape.