(MENAFN - AFP) South Africa has placed a prison run by a private British security firm under state supervision following two hostage takings in a year, officials said on Thursday.
"The contractor has lost effective control of the facility," Prisons Commissioner Nontsikelelo Jolingana said in a statement after inspecting the Mangaung Correctional Centre near the central city of Bloemfontein.
Jolingana said he was appointing an interim manager to oversee the running of the prison, which is currently operated by Britain's G4S security firm, citing a "a worrying deterioration of safety and security."
The move came a week after four inmates at the facility held hostage a female employee for over 12 hours.
The woman was reportedly an administrative assistant standing in as a guard after more than 300 wardens were sacked for an illegal strike several weeks ago.
She was grabbed by four inmates armed with improvised weapons as she watched over some 70 prisoners and held for some 12 hours before police could free her.
In November 2012, two inmates took a nurse and doctor hostage at the same facility, releasing the nurse quickly and freeing the doctor unharmed some 20 hours later.
"What we are looking is: is G4S able to get the institution back to normality," said Zacharia Modise, a prisons commissioner in the Gauteng province who was appointed as head of a task force to manage the prison.
"They have an issue of staff and an issue of security," Modise told AFP.
It was unclear how long authorities will remain in control of the facility, said Modise, adding that "it's a temporary intervention" and that a report on the prison is expected to be ready by Friday.