Cigarette ban, court dates behind riot at EC’s St Albans Prison

The Department of Correctional Services said a fight broke out in the facility when a group of inmates demanded cigarettes and wanted to have their cases heard immediately.

FILE: St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth. Picture: Google Maps.

CAPE TOWN - Its emerged desperation over cigarettes led to a riot at the St Albans Maximum Security Prison in the Eastern Cape this week.

The Department of Correctional Services said a fight broke out in the facility when a group of inmates demanded cigarettes and wanted to have their cases heard immediately.

The department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said: β€œAn investigation is under way to identify those behind this act because they will have to be charged criminally. The destruction of state property is a criminal offence.”

The ban on the sale of cigarettes has turned out to be one of the most contentious issues of life under lockdown in South Africa, with roaring trade on the black market amid threats of legal action against government.

Hundreds of thousands of South Africans have signed a petition calling on government to rethink the regulations around tobacco.

The lockdown, which is now on level 4, is in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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