Lack of money slows expansion at Her Majesty’s Prison

Source: vryheidherald.co.za

Construction work to expand the prison and other efforts to improve conditions for the 375 inmates had been advancing quite well until recently when the contractors began receiving late payments.

That’s according to the Superintendent of Prisons Albert Wade, who said much of the work reached an advanced stage before the payout problem began and work has been stopping intermittently.

However, the prison boss, who submitted the annual four-month report to the High Court yesterday, said he is hopeful the work will continue and be completed shortly to meet 21st century standards.

In the four-page document detailing the progress of construction, he said: “Both Perimeter Observation Towers are approximately 75 per cent complete. The accommodation for the kitchen staff is about 80 per cent complete and the container to house the temporary kitchen is about 90 per cent complete.”

“The new kitchen will have a seating capacity of 150 and all meals will be consumed therein and this will reduce the insects and rodents that are in the cells,” he said.

Responding to questions from Justice Keith Thom who reviewed the report, Wade said the old kitchen will be demolished once the new one is ready for use, Wade said.

He also indicated that a 30,000-gallon cistern will also be built below the kitchen to eliminate the water shortage that has been plaguing the penal institution for years. There are other forms of water catchments, so once the new cistern is completed, the total water catchment capacity will exceed 100, 000 gallons.

Wade reported that the expansion plan also includes the construction of new cells in the severely overcrowded Remand Section and combo toilets will be installed.

“Expansion will also take place in the female section with the construction of a kitchen/cafeteria and additional cells, so this will increase capacity from 15 beds to 30. All cells in the female prison will be fitted with combo toilets,” he added.

While the work is ongoing, a nine-page report by the Central Board of Health on Her Majesty’s “1735” Prison details the extent of unsanitary and uncomfortable conditions which recently prompted the United Nations Human Rights Council to insist that government make immediate changes to improve the situation at the jail, at a meeting in May this year.