The department of correctional services has reopened a prison gutted in a massive fire two years ago – before restoring it and despite wardens raising serious safety concerns.

The Glencoe prison in northern KwaZulu-Natal, near Dundee, was closed after the May 2015 fire. Almost 1 300 inmates and 150 wardens were sent to neighbouring prisons.

The public works department warned at the time that not only did the damaged parts of the prison have to be rebuilt, but the rest of the ageing structure also had to be renovated to get it “up to standard”.

Late last year, the department of correctional services awarded a R21‑million contract for the renovation of “48 houses for Glencoe”.

Last month, although minimal construction had taken place, wardens were instructed to report back for duty and some 100 prisoners were to be transferred back to Glencoe.