Ricochet News

St Albans Prison riot: Normalcy expected to return over the weekend

Dec 29, 2016
St Albans Prison riot: Normalcy expected to return over the weekend

Authorities have released the names of the three prisoners, who died after chaos erupted at the St. Albans prison, just outside Port Elizabeth on Monday. Preliminary findings indicate that the three were killed when prison warders defended themselves from an attack launched by around 30 inmates, who were being led from their cells to breakfast.

According to local police, the inmates who were killed are Bonisile Khayingo (42 years old); Mziyanda Mata (24) and Luzuko Ncokazi (22).

Nicknamed the "Schoenmakerskop mugger" by the local press, Khayingo, who resided in Sigcawu Street, in Walmer Township, Port Elizabeth, was convicted on two counts involving assault and robbery after terrorising visitors to the popular Sacramento Trail mugger during the 2009 festive season.

He also faced a charge of defeating the ends of justice when he switched places with another inmate at St Albans during an identity parade to try and fool witness and authorities.

In November 2011, he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

Mata, from Zwide, was reportedly serving a lengthy sentence for robbery following his conviction last year while Ncokazi, from Uitenhage, had been convicted and sentenced to eight years for a 2013 murder.

The Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Thabang Makwetla and DCS National Commissioner Zach Modise visited St. Albans yesterday. The correctional facility houses approximate 5 000 inmates.

St. Albans falls within the category of the "Big Five" of South Africa's Correctional Centres. These include Pollsmoor, Kgosi Mampuru II, Durban-Westville and Johannesburg Correctional Centre otherwise known as Sun City.

The Deputy Minister said the St. Albans incident was tragic and unfortunate.

“This incident is a sharp reminder of the many life threatening conditions under which no less than 38 000 Correctional Officials perform their daily duties in all our 243 Correctional Centres.”

The lockdown at the prison's Maximum security section is apparently still in force while authorities deal with the matter - things expected to get back to normal over the weekend.

“In order to strengthen our enforcement capabilities, we have decided to place St Albans on a lockdown and suspend all family visits to the centre. This is a necessary precautionary step in order to bring back normalcy to the centre,” he said.

The Minister has extended condolences and sympathy to the families and relatives of the deceased inmates.

Thirteen warders were wounded with improvised knives and sharp objects, six of them critically,  while 19 prisoners were also injured.

Six inmates were sent to hospital for treatment.

Issues that relate to overcrowding, gansterism and possibly negligence on the part of prison authorities have been blamed for the prison riot.

Following the chaos, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said that it is deeply concerned by the violence at the St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth.

"The DA will request that the Department conduct a full and thorough investigation into the events that led to this death and injury," James Selfe, Chairperson of DA Federal Council and the party’s Shadow Minister of Correctional Services.

"It is not the first time that violent events have occurred at this prison and we cannot allow such incidents to go unaccounted for.

"The DA will further be writing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services to request the Minister to appear before the Committee as soon as possible at the start of 2017 to account to Parliament for the events."