Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla visited East London Maximum Correctional Centre on Saturday, 08 December 2018 following a riot by offenders in which they vandalised state property. The offenders burned 94 matrasses and blankets, and broke the windows in three cells on 04 December 2018.
Deputy Minister Makwetla consulted with regional and centre management to resolve the issues that resulted in the incident.
Speaking at the meeting, Chief Operations Commissioner, Mr Mandla Mkabela, reassured the Head of Centre that he had the full support of Senior Management. “As the Senior Management of the department we are proud of the work that you are doing to manage the centre and we pledge our support towards the management of centre,” he said.
Acting Regional Commissioner, Ms Nozipiwo Dumbela explained the factors that resulted in the incident, stating that the region was doing everything in its power to rip out the causes of disruption in the way that the centre was being managed. “Correcting offending behaviour is central to the execution of our tasks as management and we will do all in our power to ensure perpetrators of wrong-doing in all the correctional centres in the region are brought to book,” she said.
The management area presented a full report on the incident. The Deputy Minister raised concern that the incident occurred a day after the national launch of Operation Vala. In his response to some of the issues raised in the memorandum that the offenders submitted to the centre management, he advised that complaints about management of the tuck-shop be resolved.
“Management must periodically engage with offenders on departmental policies in order to prevent misunderstandings. He added that Head Office will need to fast-track the procurement of fire resistant mattresses.
He urged management to look into the other issues raised, which included management of the kitchen and the quality of food served.
Chief Security Officer, Mr Lucky Mthethwa was also present to advise on security matters and to ensure that operations at the centre continue without any further hassles.
The visit ended with a tour of the facility by the Minister to assess the extent of damage caused. The media was also invited to be part of the site visit.