11/04/2018 08:58 SAST | Updated 11/04/2018 08:59 SAST

Spate Of Prison Escapes Could Be Because Of Poor Prison Conditions - JICS

The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services is concerned that the poor state of prisons is endangering the lives of the public.

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The recent spate of prison breaks could be because of terrible prison conditions, The Star reported.

A total of 16 inmates from Johannesburg's "Sun City" prison escaped on Monday, according to Eyewitness News (EWN). They reportedly broke the iron bars of the prison windows and a portion of the wall before escaping through the fence in the early hours of Monday morning.

Correctional Services reportedly said the "only recent" escape incident was in the Western Cape, where six inmates escaped from Pollsmoor prison. They were all rearrested within 48 hours.

As of Tuesday, a manhunt for the 16 prisoners was still ongoing. According to The Citizen, they were all awaiting-trial prisoners charged with crimes such as murder, housebreaking and rape.

According to The Star, inspecting Judge Johann van der Westhuizen from the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) reportedly said conditions at prisons are dire.

"JICS is concerned that the recent spate of prison escapes may be related to possible unconducive conditions at the correctional centres, which decreases the safety of the citizens of South Africa," he said.

Correctional Services' Singabakho Nxumalo told The Star that from April 2016 to October 2016, 35 prisoners had escaped and there had been 15 rearrests.

Van der Westhuizen reportedly said the JICS had discovered that in one prison in KwaZulu-Natal, prisoners did not have beds and slept on single sponges, and their toilets did not work.

Meanwhile, there are suspicions that the breakout at Sun City could be an inside job.

An inmate told IOL that the breakout happened 100 metres away from where prison security is situated, including its dog unit. Someone should have heard the prisoners breaking through the wall, the inmate said.