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MANZINI – A prison gang attack on other inmates ended nasty as a convict died, allegedly in the hands of HMCS officers.

The incident took place on Tuesday night at the His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) facility at Sidwashini in Mbabane.
According to impeccable sources, there was a skirmish between 14 inmates who are believed to be members of the 28 gang and convicts who were non-gang members. The sources alleged that the ‘28s’, as they are popularly called, allegedly attacked the non-gang members in a bid to force them to join them (28s).
They said the 28s launched the attack just after the prison cells were locked and were satisfied that the officers were patrolling the facility premises.


They said the inmates started attacking the others from inside their cell with the full knowledge that it would take some time for the Correctional officers to open their dormitories as there were procedures which needed to be followed before a cell could be opened, especially after hours.
The number of the attacked non-gang members could not be ascertained.

Soon after the officers noticed the commotion which had engulfed the cell, the insiders said they ran to the scene and tried to calm the situation through spy-holes, but in vain. They said while the officers tried to reprimand the inmates, the gang members continued attacking their counterparts.
In that regard, the insiders said the officers were left with no choice, but to raise the alarm to the facility’s authorities, who responded promptly.


They said the authorities of the facility also made efforts to rebuke the offenders, but their attempts seemed to have fallen on deaf ears as the 28s continued with the alleged violent attack on their counterparts.
At that time, the insiders alleged that some of the inmates who were under attack were already lying on the floor, bleeding profusely as the perpetrators had broken some of the water taps from their bathrooms and used these as weapons to inflict pain and injuries on their targets.

They said it was then that the authorities of the facility realised that if not stopped, the violent gang members could cause serious harm to the other inmates.
In that regard, they said the officers were allegedly given an instruction to use force to open the locked cell in order to rescue the inmates who were under attack because some of them had already been injured.
However, the source alleged that to the officers’ dismay, their intervention was met with violence from the enraged 28 gang members as they failed to comply with the orders to stop the attack.

In fact, the insiders alleged that the gang members started fighting the officers by throwing all sorts of missiles at them, including the water taps and pipes, hence the warders took a decision to use their batons to restrain them.
They said the scuffle left a number of inmates injured and one of them, believed to be a member of the 28 gang, was confirmed dead at the Mbabane Government Hospital. Sources said the deceased had serious injuries to the head and body.
The incident was confirmed by HMCS Public Relations Officer (PRO) Assistant Superintendent Gugulethu Dlamini.


She said the Commissioner General of HMCS, Phindile Dlamini, lamented that during this altercation, some of the inmates sustained injuries as they stumbled on each other during the scuffle with one inmate later succumbing to his injuries.
She said the deceased was a 25-year-old male of Nkambeni (Buhlebuyeza) who was serving a three-year sentence having been convicted of grievous bodily harm (GBH) and another three- month sentence for malicious damage to property.

Nonetheless, she said investigations to what the fundamental cause might have been were still ongoing. She said at the moment, the information that she had was that offenders who ran prison gangs, at this time of the year, got engaged in a series of meetings where they plan heavy disturbances in operations within the centres.


She said in these under-the-carpet meetings, they had gathered that the inmates even contemplated the killing of officers in order for them to gain popularity and be promoted within the hierarchy of prison gangs.
The PRO added that these gangs were self-formed associations of peers united by mutual interests. She said they thrived on negative thinking and embraced  hatred and violence as a sense of security.

She said they maintained their existence within the Correctional facilities through recruiting neutral inmates into their camps by preying on them through violence, intimidation and at times murder as has been witnessed in the matter at hand, where the gangs wanted to kill their fellow colleagues who refused to be part of their association.

In that regard, the PRO said the commissioner general had warned offenders against misusing some of the privileges given to them by the department. She said it had since become evident that since all programmes were suspended within the centres due to the outbreak of COVID-19 some offenders had allegedly resorted to planning bizarre and barbaric acts as they spent most of their time idling about.

She said one of the mistakes that offenders would think of was the killing of one another for the sake of earning promotions within their prohibited gangs. In fact, the she said the commissioner general reiterated that officers had the duty to protect all inmates under their care and there were no inmates who had to feel discriminated against due to one group claiming dominance over another.

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