The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has learnt with repugnance the unfortunate, but predictable and preventable stabbing of a correctional official at the Johannesburg High Court yesterday.
The incident took place at a time when the correctional official was single-handedly escorting a sentenced inmate from the Johannesburg Correctional Centre’s B section, which houses maximum offenders, at the Johannesburg High Court, where he was overpowered, stabbed and then chained by the inmate who attempted to escape, but was soon caught by members of the public.
Correctional officials continue to remain vulnerable to attacks because the Correctional centres management force them to escort inmates single-handedly, going against its policy of having 2 officials for an individual offender. This has placed the lives of officials at risk, while the courts also do not allow for inmates to be shackled when appearing
The Correctional services management has effectively declared the lives of correctional officials irrelevant by their failure to comply to their safety policies, and this incident has adversely affected the morale of many other correctional officials who continue to be single-handedly forced to escort dangerous convicted criminals or face the risks of being charged by the very management that claims to prioritise their interests.
We want to categorically state that all correctional officials across the country should blatantly refuse to escort maximum inmates to the courts or hospitals if the ratio is not 2;1, meaning that there should at all times be two correctional officials escorting one inmate, excluding a driver.
All officials should work strictly in accordance with the defined policies, and no amount of intimidation from the management will be tolerated by POPCRU.
We further urge the department to speedily resolve the challenge around shift patterns as the current shifts in the management areas exacerbate the shortages of personnel.