POPCRU condemns the escape of inmates at the Rooigrond Medium A Correctional Centre

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) strongly condemns the brazen escape of four inmates that took place in the early hours of this morning at the Rooigrond Medium A Correctional Centre in the North West Province.

It is understood that in the early hours of this morning, the escaped inmates cut through window bars, and preceded to utilise sheets as a means to jump through the facility’s security fence.

This latest incident follows an escape that took place on the 5th of December 2021, wherein an inmate had escaped, and is yet to be rearrested.

This Medium A facility hosts a total of 986 inmates, with 730 sentenced, while 290 of those are doing life sentences.

At the time of this morning’s escape, only 1 correctional official was on duty at the affected unit which houses 300 inmates.

It is our held view that after so many years since our correctional centres have been defined as centres for the core function of rehabilitation, the DCS continues to face multiple upheavals, including being perforated with challenges ranging from overcrowding and understaffing, ailing infrastructure, the lack of resources to appropriately meet its increasing demands.

With a total of 243 operational centres with a bed capacity of 118 572 across the country, and housing approximately 138 070 inmates, our correctional centres have a staff complement of 34 000, with 12 000 of those performing administrative duties.

Beyond this, approximately 85% of inmates in our country re-offend after their release, meaning the current system of rehabilitation needs to be redefined because as is the current situation, our centres are far from being conducive to fulfilling the rehabilitating requirements. This is partly due to limited technical and life skills inmates are getting, therefore making it difficult to survive outside the prison environment, and has been a source of increased crime.

Our Correctional centres also continue being high-risk environments, particularly in that the department cannot maintain adequate standards of health and safety, proper sanitation, and other health and safety protocols as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

We reiterate our call that, in addressing some of the pertinent challenges facing our correctional centres, they should be self-sufficient insofar as food production through farming, the production of offender uniforms, furniture, and the general maintenance and repairs as this will not only cut down on costs incurred and reduce the levels of criminal activities common within prisons but will also skill inmates even beyond incarceration.

We call on the local communities to share information with law enforcement officials that could lead to the speedy apprehension of these escaped convicts.

Issued by POPCRU on 15/03/2022

For more information contact; Richard Mamabolo Tel: 066 135 4349