Cape Town - An undercover probe of the “vicious” Junior Cisko Yakkies (JCY) gang has led to five Breede Valley Prison warders being arrested on allegations of smuggling drugs, corruption and involvement in other gang activities.
Four officials were arrested at work and the fifth at his home on Thursday. They are aged 33, 36, 40, 41 and 43. Each has more than 10 years’ experience.
They are to appear in court in Worcester on Friday on charges under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
The arrests followed those of 32 members of the gang in investigations of two murders at the prison, police spokesman André Traut said.
The first of the murders was that of inmate Andries Jaars on July 13 last year and led to the arrests of 11 members of the JCY gang in and outside the prison.
Twenty-one members of the gang were arrested in connection with the second murder, that of Lwando Mabona, also an inmate, on August 20.
“These officials are linked to the activities of these gang members and are suspected of assisting them to perpetrate crimes in prison,” Traut said.
The arrests were carried out by members of Operation Combat, a police project targeting the drug trade, and the Department of Correctional Services.
Operation Combat head Major-General Jeremy Vearey said the investigation of the JCY gang had been launched in July last year, with “possible targets” being identified.
“We have been busy with this investigation for almost a year, trying to put together the pieces,” he said.
“We finally made a breakthrough and this is a result of working together with other role-players.
“These five suspects will be added to the 32 who were arrested for the crimes.
“This investigation does not stop here. We believe there are other role-players in other institutions and from the community who may be linked and assisting the gang.”
Vearey said the gang had been operating in Worcester for more than 20 years and was linked to murders and other serious crimes.
“The Junior Cisko gang have been operating in the area since the 1980s. They are one of the vicious gangs. I think this is their third generation. They keep on growing. New people are joining the gang.
“Some of the cases we investigated are old, making it difficult for our team of investigators to track them down. They were not like your usual crime scenes and you needed a different approach to track down evidence. Investigations like these require good identification of suspects, which is not easy.
“The success of these investigations comes from working together and other role-players who assist.
“There were small things that prevent you from getting information you require, but we were able to overcome those. We will not stop here.”
Western Cape Correctional Services spokesman Simphiwe Xako said the department was shocked at the warders’ alleged activities.
“We were in Worcester with the police this morning and the regional commissioner has expressed shock and anger that some of our officials could be linked to the wrong side of the law when they are supposed to be protecting the community.”
Xako said the five were senior members of Correctional Services, each with more than 10 years’ experience.
“It concerns us that members with many years of experience would be engaged in illegal activities in our prisons.
“These were the members entrusted to protect and serve with dignity, but were linked to something completely against their duty. We don’t know how long these members have been engaged in these activities.
“The full details will unfold once they appear in court.”