A rare opportunity on Tuesday yielded positive insight into the procedures and circumstances at Polokwane Correctional Services.
Local media houses were taken on a tour of the premises by Kenneth Mthombeni, Polokwane Area Commisioner to gain a clearer picture of what life in prison is like. Afterwards breakfast was served at Unit 2 where inmates serving long sentences are detained.
Elaborating on the challenges faced Mthombeni said: “Our biggest challenge is overcrowding. Some units are packed to capacity while others house more inmates than it actually can accommodate with only one toilet for more than 100 inmates per unit.”
At Unit C, where more than 500 trial awaiting prisoners are kept, Mthombeni pointed out that some of them wait for three to four years before being sentenced. He explained the colour coded uniform system namely trial awaiting prisoners wear yellow while sentenced inmates wear orange and inmates working in the kitchen wear white.
“Samples of food served are kept in a locked freezer for seven days. This is for safety and investigation purposes should cases of poisoning be reported,” Mthombeni said while guiding the visitors around the kitchen. He pointed out that it has been awarded as being among the cleanest kitchens in provincial hospitals and correctional service centres.
Media houses were also taken through the female cells as well as the cell for women with babies. He also introduced the choir which delivered powerful songs as entertainment before breakfast was served.
Story: RC Myburgh