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Dept launches probe into fatal St Albans Prison clash

3 inmates died and 13 prison officials were injured when a group of inmates attacked prison warders after a shift change.

FILE: St Alban’s Prison in Port Elizabeth. Picture: Google Maps.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Correctional Services has launched a formal internal inquiry into an attack at the St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth which left three inmates dead.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla is in the city on Tuesday for a briefing on Monday’s incident in which 13 prison officials were injured.

Prison staff are now on their way to the families of the deceased to inform them of the deaths.

Eastern Cape Police officials are still trying to establish a factual account of what led to the prison attack.

The inmates involved are among the country’s most dangerous criminals.

Makwetla says the department’s immediate concern is around those involved in the attack.

“Managing of the 30 offenders who were involved in terms of where we take them and how we deal with them in the coming days and weeks.”

The deceased inmates were serving long terms of up to 19 years for crimes including murder and aggravated robbery.

Makwetla says the department will assist their families with burials if necessary.

“Once the families of the deceased are informed, we will release their names.

The prison remains on lockdown and no visitors are allowed at the facility.

At the same time, the Police and Prison Civil Rights Union (Popcru) says the deaths of three inmates could have been avoided.

Twenty-six others were injured when a group of inmates attacked prison warders shortly after a shift change.

The union lashed out at the Department of Correctional Services for not putting in place the necessary measures to ensure the rehabilitation of inmates and to create a safe working environment for correctional officials.

Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo says lives have been put in danger because the department ignored their plight.

“We think the Department of Correctional Services should really focus on their core business which is to rehabilitate the inmates. Prisoners remain idle all the time and that has been part of the reasons why we’ve got gangsterism within prisons.”