Inmates ‘starving’ at New Prison

Inmates at the New Prison in the city are complaining about being starved, not being given healthy food and being “squashed like sardines” in vehicles when attending court.

A prisoner, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, told The Witness that for more than 16 days they have been eating bread for breakfast, lunch and supper.

“Sometimes even that bread is not enough for all of us. On Thursday we only had two plain slices of bread for breakfast and the prisoners who were going to court left without having breakfast. There was no lunch for everyone and bread was only delivered at the prison after 7 pm. When we complain about being hungry, we are told that there is no food,” he said.

The man said when he arrived at the prison in December last year, they normally ate “phuthu and cabbage” every day and now they are just being given bread.

He said in the morning they are given two slices of plain bread and tea, for lunch its five plain slices of bread and tea, and for supper its four slices of bread and two boiled eggs.

“Eating bread all day and every day is not good for our health. It has become hard to even swallow those boiled eggs now because we eat them every day. Phuthu and cabbage wasn’t the best but at least it was healthier than bread and eggs.

“Our relatives are also not allowed to bring us food from home because some hide drugs inside the food. We don’t mind if the food is searched, all we ask is that our relatives be allowed to bring us decent meals.”

The inmates also complained about how they are overloaded into vehicles when being transported to court.

“A car that is supposed to carry 40 seated prisoners ends up carry more than 80 prisoners seated on the floor of the car. We fear that if we get involved in a car accident many of us won’t survive because they squash us like sardines,” said the prisoner.

They also complained that prisoners are only allowed to see doctors on Wednesdays no matter how sick they are. There is also no hot water for them to bath, they said.

KZN Correctional Services Department’s spokesperson Thulani Mdluli and Provincial Commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele did not respond to questions sent by The Witness by the time of going to print on Tuesday. This despite repeated promises to do so.