Date: 03 December 2017 By: Isabel Venter
The dust has yet to settle over the recent prison break at the Kutama Sinthumule Maximum Security Prison (KSMS), which saw a total of seven violent prisoners escape during October.
While the South African Police Service’s search continues for the two prisoners who are still at large, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) confirmed that they have suspended 18 officials at the prison during November as part of an ongoing investigation into the matter.
“The charges will be formalized once South African Custodial Management (SACM) has concluded their investigation,” said the DCS’s spokesperson, Mr Logan Maistry, just a couple of days after the prison break. He added, when asked about the security at the prison, that the “situation at the facility has been normalised”.
Some of the country’s most dangerous prisoners reportedly exploited an ongoing strike by SACM warders on 26 October and went on the rampage in an attempt to take control of the prison. Maistry did not comment on any questions about this.
According to unofficial sources, the wardens were neglecting their duties because of a dispute that they have with the SACM over their contribution towards the employees’ pension fund. The rowdy crowd of prisoners, the newspaper has heard in the meantime, took control of a control room inside the prison for a short while. They also reportedly managed to drag mattresses into a gymnasium hall and set them alight. A total of three buildings were damaged by the riotous group.
Asked about this, Maistry said that the facility was damaged extensively and that the SACM was still in the process of estimating the costs. The newspaper learned from a reliable source that the damages are more than R40 million.
In the meantime, the Limpopo Police confirmed that two of the seven escapees remain at large. Phathutshedzo Nemadodzi (34) from Dididi in Thohoyandou and Raphael Nyota (30) from Harare, Zimbabwe, continue to evade arrest.
The other five escapees, Chris Faku (37), Jabulani Isaac Mahlangu (31), Thomas Munyai (29), Tshengedzeni Manuka (37) and Justice Makamo (27), were rearrested in a matter of days after their escape.
The five again appeared in the Louis Trichardt District Court on 23 November. Their case was postponed until 18 January next year in order to finalize the necessary paperwork to have their case transferred to the regional court.
Isabel joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in 2009 as a reporter. She holds a BA Degree in Communication Sciences from the University of South Africa. Her beat is mainly crime and court reporting.