Balfour: Nurses' rapes caused by human error
The stabbing and alleged rape of two Baviaanspoort prison nurses, east of Pretoria, by juvenile detainees was due to a human lapse, Correctional Services minister Ngconde Balfour told parliament on Tuesday.
"The (security) system works very well but it has to be manned by committed, vigilant people. It's a human lapse not a systems lapse," Balfour told the committee after visiting the prison on Monday.
Two nurses, aged 35 and 52, were stabbed in the neck and allegedly raped by two juvenile inmates in the hospital section of the Emthonjeni Juvenile Centre in Baviaanspoort on Sunday.
"If you say stabbed, that's an understatement. He tried to slit their throats. Its a barbaric situation," Balfour told the committee, informing them that the incident had left the staff traumatised.
|'Sometimes familiarity and trust can put you into deep, deep danger'|
He said the nurses knew their attackers well because they often helped out in the clinic during the week but were not supposed to there over the weekend.
"Sometimes familiarity and trust can put you into deep, deep danger," he said.
The minister said he had ordered a report into the attack to try and establish why it had happened.
Balfour stated that none of the traditional excuses of overcrowding or poor facilities applied, describing the centre as under-utilised and state of the art.
According to a report distributed to the committee from Baviaanspoort Prison, the attackers managed to walk through two security check points and then were allowed through a third by one of the nurses.
One of the attackers allegedly used a kitchen knife to order around the nurses, the report said.
Both nurses were admitted to hospital with severe throat injuries.
Regional Correctional Services spokesperson, Molwantwa Mosiane, said it was not yet clear if the nurses had been raped, as the department was still awaiting confirmation from the hospital.
"The law must take its course. I would like to see it done very swiftly to give confidence to my staff and the families that justice will be done," Balfour said.
Chairman of the portfolio committee, Dennis Bloem, told Balfour that he had the full support of the committee to do whatever he felt necessary.
"If the unions are standing in your way minister we are fully behind you. There is no way we are going to politicise this," he said referring to the Baviaanspoort attack and the attempted escape by a prisoner at Groote Schuur Hospital that claimed the life of one warder on Monday.
He urged the minister to take whatever action he felt was needed.
"Minister you have our support... what ever you do to take strong action against anyone. We are here to support and defend you," he said.