A Waikeria prisoner who surrendered was assaulted by other inmates who tried to stop him from leaving, it has been revealed.
New disturbing developments have surfaced in the ongoing prison siege, now heading into its fourth day, with prisoners still lighting fires in their extensively damaged wing and throwing projectiles to staff patrolling the area.
A Corrections spokesperson said an inmate who chose to leave the group of 17 was physically prevented from surrendering.
“One prisoner surrendered to staff late yesterday afternoon. Prior to surrendering he was assaulted by the others, who attempted to prevent him from leaving.
“The prisoners continued to light fires last night and cause further damage. They have also thrown objects at Corrections staff patrolling the area.”
A spokesperson said the prisoners had now twice reneged on promises to surrender if they could speak with kaumatua and a politician.
“Yesterday, the prisoners agreed with negotiators to surrender if they were able to speak with kaumatua. This was facilitated, however did not resolve the situation,” said the spokesperson.
“Later in the day the prisoners committed to surrendering if they could speak with MP Rawiri Waititi. This was also facilitated and did not resolve the situation.”
Fire and Emergency NZ, Police and St John remained at the prison and were working closely with Corrections staff.
“We are grateful to them for their assistance, and also to the many Corrections staff who have responded bravely and professionally despite very challenging circumstances,” said the spokesperson.
“We have highly trained staff with specialist skills who are continuing to negotiate with the prisoners involved, supported by Police. We are not going to speculate on matters that are relevant to those negotiations.”
Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi was this morning calling for the Corrections Minister to step in immediately to resolve the ongoing stand-off with rioting inmates at Waikeria Prison.
Waititi issued an urgent plea to Kelvin Davis to sort out the situation for the safety of everyone involved.
Waititi visited the prison yesterday evening to meet with the 16 remaining men who had taken control of the prison’s top jail in fiery uprising on Tuesday afternoon. It came as one further prisoner surrendered to authorities.
After meeting with the men, Waititi warned things were going to get worse at the jail if there wasn’t a top-level intervention.
“When injustice becomes law, defiance becomes duty. These men are at their wits’ end.
“This situation is indicative of a dysfunctional Justice system that has been failing our people for years.
“Until resources can be devolved to Māori to design and implement by Māori for Māori approaches, things are going to get worse.”
He said for a government who prided itself on kindness, they had allowed for an inhumane environment to fester.
“They are willingly allowing for breaches of basic human rights to occur. They need to sort it out now,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Corrections Minister said today that he would not be commenting until the situation was resolved.
Rawiri said the men faced appalling inhumane conditions inside the jail.
“The environment in Waikeria prison is dehumanising. The water they are expected to drink is brown. They don’t get clothing or appropriate bedding. They are expected to wash their clothes in the yard shower.”
He said yesterday’s meeting with the prisoners holding siege to the now extensively damaged top jail was about listening to their korero.
“They are clear that this is not a riot, it is a protest for their human rights for all inmates past and present.
“They are protesting for their right to basic human needs.”
He said it would take a degree of negotiation with Corrections before the men got off the roof.
“I feel for those who work in that particular space and also our whānau who have to live in it. Our people have done wrong, yes, and they’ve got to accept that, but at the end of the day 2020 in Aotearoa people have to be treated by a human being and not an animal.”
It came as a manifesto was released yesterday detailing appalling conditions inside the Waikato jail including filthy drinking water and inmates expected to eat food in paper bags next to open, shared toilets.
The document also alleged inmates have had to use towels for three straight weeks, and some have not had bedding changed in five months.
A Corrections spokesperson said the situation remained unchanged this morning.
Yesterday, Corrections said the prisoners remained within the secure perimeter of the “top jail” facility and “there is no risk to public safety”.
“We are continuing to engage with the prisoners to encourage them to cease their action,” a Corrections spokesperson said.
“We are concerned that they are putting themselves at significant risk by remaining where they are. Damage to the building is significant.”
It followed the men earlier reneging on an agreement they would surrender if they were able to speak with kaumatua.
“An operation involving support from our advanced control and restraint staff was planned to enable this to happen safely, however [it] did not resolve the situation,” the spokesperson said.
“We would like to express our thanks to the kaumātua for their efforts and willingness to assist with the safe resolution of the incident.”
Initially, 21 prisoners were on the roof of the prison after the riot, but four have since surrendered.
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