Mangaung hostage crisis ends

The Tactical Response Team rescued a woman who was held captive by four inmates.

A G4S employee was captured by inmates and it’s understood three other people were also injured. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - A hostage situation at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in the Free State has ended with the South African Police Service (SAPS) Tactical Response Team rescuing a woman held captive by four inmates for just over 12 hours.

A G4S employee was captured by the inmates on Wednesday and it's understood three other people were injured.

Late on Wednesday the SAPS team moved into the section of the prison where the woman was being held and the company says the woman was freed without being physically harmed.

The private security firm was hired by the Department of Correctional Services to manage the prison and has yet to explain how the incident was able to take place.

The department's Joe Maako said, "We'll definitely look into it and after the situation there will be investigations as to how this happened."

It's also unclear if any of the hostage takers were injured during the rescue operation.

At the same time, Prisons and Policing Union (Popcru) says the hostage drama was able to happen due to the shortage of man power following the mass dismissal of its members.

More than 300 Popcru members were sacked after staging a wildcat strike at the prison in August forcing the private security firm G4S, which manages the prison, to find alternative guards for the prisoners.

A riot by prisoners broke out at the same prison earlier this year and two people were stabbed after guards protested against unsafe working conditions.

Popcru's Free State Secretary Lawrence Msinto says the people hired to replace their members aren't competent.

"It was because of unfounded allegations that our members were dismissed and we find it strange that people who are not competent are being deployed."

However, Maako argued they've always been aware of G4S's lack of manpower at the prison.

"There has been unrest at G4S which started in August which was a result of a strike so most of the employees who have been on strike have been dismissed. At the moment they don't have the full complement which they had."