DA slams presentation on Pollsmoor living conditions

Former ConCourt judge Edwin Cameron had raised issues of concern at the facility in a report.

FILE: Prisoners are detained during a search and seizure in Pollsmoor Prison. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has criticised a Correctional Services' presentation aimed at addressing living conditions in Pollsmoor Prison.

Officials today addressed parliament's select committee on security and justice to outline interventions taken to improve conditions at the Pollsmoor Correctional Facility in Tokai.

Former Constitutional Court judge Edwin Cameron had raised issues of concern at the facility in a report.

The report outlined deplorable living conditions for inmates at the prison.

Western Cape Department of Correctional Services addressed the parliamentary committee, highlighting steps taken to address pest infestations at Pollsmoor Prison.

Officials also pointed out more than 8,000 inmates are held in the correctional facility - almost double its capacity of 4,300.

But the DA's Gordon Michalakis was not impressed.

"Regardless whether these are prisoners, you're dealing with South African citizens. You are placing people's lives in danger in our prisons. My big question to you is this, if a prisoner dies in prison due to unnatural causes in that prison, who is ultimately responsible for his death?"

The committee is set to embark on an oversight visit at the facility in due course.

Meanwhile, the provincial department says it's working towards finding solutions to problems with living conditions in prisons.

Provincial commissioner, Delekile Klaas, says the infrastructural challenges at Pollsmoor can also be found at other facilities across the country.

Committee members concluded by saying Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha will be notified and his urgent intervention in the matter will be requested.