Picture: Willem Law/African News Agency (ANA) Archives.
Picture: Willem Law/African News Agency (ANA) Archives.

Pollsmoor Prison officials in trouble for ‘giving inmates special treatment’

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Aug 4, 2020

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Cape Town - Two senior officials, including an area commissioner at Pollsmoor Prison, face disciplinary action after an inmate alleged that others were receiving special treatment.

The Cape Argus enquired from Mosele Sehloho, administrative secretary for the regional commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), on the matter, but she said “(what) you are referring to is between the employer and the employee and is information that we therefore cannot divulge”.

National departmental spokesperson Logan Maistry confirmed that the two officials have been flagged for disciplinary action.

Maistry said area commissioner Ntobeko Mketshane has been suspended. A senior official, Wongama Mbombo, was dismissed.

“It is important to allow the due process to take its course,” Maistry added.

Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services spokesperson Emerantia Cupido said they were made aware of the allegations and “are enquiring into it”.

The South African Sentenced and Awaiting Trial Prisoners Organisation (Sasapo) chairperson Phindile Zweni said corruption within the DCS was on the rise, more so especially now during the pandemic.

Zweni said some officials were using the lockdown as an opportunity to sell contraband and cellphones to inmates knowing that visitations are prohibited.

He said Sasapo had information from reliable sources within DCS of “special inmates” allowed to spend nights with their partners in favour of money and drinks at shebeens.

“Among senior officials who was named in this scandal/corruption was Mkhetshane, who is currently suspended with the other senior official based at Pollsmoor Correctional Centre,” Zweni said.

He said Sasapo also knows of inmates and their families paying huge amounts to heads of the case management committee and parole boards around the country.

“In my first meeting with the national commissioner a month ago, I highlighted some of these concerns and he indicated to me that he will request that his personal assistant send a memorandum of understanding to me, but we haven’t received (it).”

Zweni said Sasapo has a team of private investigators who are investigating several serious allegations levelled at senior members within the department, but could not divulge it at this stage.

Siviwe Mancotywa, official for Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), who represented the two officials, said on Mketshane’s case the union made an application for legal representation and it was granted.

Mancotywa said the case was currently sub judice, yet the two were charged for failure to follow proper procedure for the movements of the inmates.

“Now we are currently defending Mketshane’s case. Our belief is that each and every member of the union must be properly represented,” Mancotywa said.

“Currently the employer has closed its case, now it will be the defence. Mbombo’s case was referred for arbitration because it was an unfair dismissal and the case will be starting on August 13.”

Popcru deputy secretary Xolile Marimani said if there is a case currently being investigated, at least there must be an alternative placement than for an employee to be suspended.

“Especially at the level of an area commissioner because he is a chief director, that means there is a lot of money that is wasted by the department to pay someone who is on suspension,” said Marimani.

Cape Argus

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