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Security beefed at Mangaung prison

Security has been beefed up at the prison following a hostage drama.

FILE: Inmates at a prison. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Private security firm G4S Africa says it's ramped up security at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in the Free State following the dramatic hostage situation which took place on Wednesday.

The woman, who was guarding around 60 inmates, was captured after a routine exercise by four inmates and held hostage for 12 hours.

She was held in a cell and was threatened with a makeshift weapon.

The woman was eventually rescued through a joint operation by the South African Police Service and G4S.

G4S Africa president Andy Baker said the company has since boosted its presence in the facility.

"In Africa, we're the largest private sector employer. We have 112,000 people so that vast resource gives us a little bit of latitude in terms of pulling in very highly trained people when we need to. So we've been able to bolster our numbers in the prison."

Despite the seriousness of the situation, the woman, a highly trained warden, said she was treated well while being held captive.

There have reportedly been an increased number of violent incidents at the facility in recent weeks.

The company also confirmed the woman was previously held hostage in 2009.

Meanwhile, G4S now suspects inmates may have been paid.

G4S took over operations at the Free State facility after 300 Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) members were fired for staging an unprotected strike earlier this year.

Baker said the unrest may be linked to the sackings.

"There are certainly links - there is no question at all."

Baker said a number of inmates have given sworn affidavits saying they were offered money to destabilise the facility.

"We are pursuing criminal charges against the people that are fuelling this instability. We have certain challenges that are abnormal and extreme."

G4S says an investigation is still at an early stage and no arrests have been made as yet.

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