Makwetla visits Free State prison, denounces shortage of staff

SABC News Correctional Services - Makwetla visits Free State prison, denounces shortage of staff

The stabbing of Free State Correctional Services officer has prompted a visit from the Department’s Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla.

He says shortage of staff in correctional centres is at the root of safety threats to officials.

His visit follows an incident where a female warder was stabbed to death and another allegedly raped and sustained injuries.

Colleagues of the Goedemoed Correctional Services officer are still reeling from the shock of losing a colleague at the hands of an inmate. They say they no longer feel safe at work.

Makwetla says the department may resort to recalling retired staff to reinforce correctional centres.

“There’s a thing that is happening partly, because of the familiarity with which at times members execute their duties by not adhering to procedures. That could minimise the opportunities for these offenders to carry out these kind of acts, but also the other cause factor, of course, is that we have a workforce that is dangerously overstretched. We have very high levels of shortages in the department.”

Traumatised officials at the centre say the shortage of staff makes them vulnerable.

“This has affected us because we told ourselves that when we come to work, we come to rehabilitate offenders. We didn’t know we are coming to work to be killed.”

Trade union Popcru Spokesperson, Mpumelelo Phindani, says more engagements are needed to address challenges faced by employees.

“We are very saddened about what happened. It leaves us at a point where we have to go back and revisit some of the policies and procedures in terms of the operations, as well as engagement with the management to ensure that such incidents never happen.”

Makwetla has sent message of condolences to the bereaved family.


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