Cape Town - Correctional Services regional commissioner Delekile Klaas found a stash of illegal items during a raid at the Goodwood prison over the weekend.
Klaas said some of the items seized were 12 cellphones with SIM cards, various sharp objects, cash, dagga, tik and mandrax.
Klaas initiated the search-and-seizure operation with the Department of Correctional Services’s Emergency Support Team and the police on Saturday.
According to Klaas, the operation stemmed from a tip-off. He said they received information that offenders at Goodwood Correctional Facility were in possession of illegal items.
“Under the auspices of Operation Lockdown, five cells were identified on suspicion that they were harbouring illegal items,” said Klaas.
He said the operation was an ongoing programme to ensure that correctional facilities become centres for rehabilitation and not breeding grounds for drug distribution and crime.
SA Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights president Miles Bhudu said so-called illegal weapons did not grow on trees, neither did they fall from the heavens like rain drops.
Bhudu said illegal substances were a multimillion-rand market in which corrupt correctional officers colluded with prisoners and their relatives and friends as a way of getting money from them.
“Some of the officials said they are doing it because they have been underpaid, over- taxed and over-charged subscription fees by their trade unions, and there is nothing much they can do,” said Bhudu.
SA Sentenced and Awaiting Trial Prisoners Organisation chairperson Phindile Zweni said they recently handed over a memorandum of grievances to the Department of Correctional Services that included allegations of corruption against officials, particularly during the lockdown, when visitors were not allowed.
Zweni said he pointed out that most contraband, drugs and illegal items ended up in prisons via corrupt officials.
He said he was not surprised by the illegal items found at the Goodwood facility. He alleged that Pollsmoor and other prisons such as St Albans in Gqeberha were even worse, with some inmates owning firearms.
The chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, Bulelani Magwanishe, said illegal weapons have no place in correctional facilities. He said the facilities were only for the rehabilitation of inmates.
“The department must always make sure that there is all the intelligence needed to ensure whoever brings illegal weapons to the facilities are apprehended,” said Magwanishe.