Rooigrond inmates down tools

Allegations of prisoner abuse has seen scores of inmates at the Rooigrond Correctional Centre, outside Mafikeng, refusing to participate in rehabilitation activities.

The prisoners embarked on a strike last Monday to protest against physical abuse of inmates by prison officials, poor sanitation and a lack of toiletries, prisoners told The New Age on Wednesday.

Prisoners said relatives and friends who had come to visit at the Easter weekend were not permitted to see them and were sent home disappointed.

Some of the visitors, who spoke to The New Age on condition of anonymity, indicated that they had brought toiletries and other necessary items to their relatives because the situation at the centre was said to be appalling.

One woman said: I’m very angry that authorities refused me a chance to see my husband. I have sacrificed to drive here and now ”Im going without seeing him.”I cannot say much though because that may jeopardise his parole application, which is due soon.”

Another mother was only allowed to see her son after lengthy negotiations with the officials. “They only allowed me to see him for a very short time because there have been reports that he was assaulted. Otherwise, I would not have seen him,” she said.

Though correctional services authorities acknowledge the disturbances at the facility, they said no abuse of inmates has been reported to them.

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