The Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola has explained some of the grievances that led inmates to torch the Kutama-Sinthumule maximum prison on Monday.

The Kutama-Sinthumule prison inmates started the fire due to grievances they have with the management of the Limpopo-based prison. The South African Custodial Management has operated the facility in a public-private partnership since 2002.

Amongst others, they were not happy with the treatment of one of their inmates and the transfer policy. The riot led to the death of one prisoner while others as well as staff members were injured.

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Lamola visited the facility on Tuesday. He was accompanied by Deputy Minister Patekile Holomisa. National commissioner of correctional services Samule Thobakale and National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola.

“The inmates started the fire due to their grievances with the facility management,” Lamola told the media.

Minister Ronald Lamola explains why inmates burnt the Kutama-Sinthumule prison
Kutama-Sinthumule prison burnt cells

“They were also unhappy with the Disciplinary action taken against an inmate who had been moved to a special care unit.

“I can confirm that since the fire broke out. The situation has stabilized and returned to normal since early this morning. Through the efforts of the officials from the Correctional services and also to a certain extent the cooperation from the inmates themselves who also surrendered and were cooperating during the process of negotiations.”


“We also commend the Correctional Services officials who responded timeously and stabilized the centre, the centre is now under control. The state authority has also been asserted because of the intervention by DCSA. It is disheartening that these complaints led to the distraction of state property, the instigators have been identified and investigations will be launched urgently.”