KZN prison raid yields cellphones, dagga
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DURBAN - THE Department of Correctional Services (DCS) said the items found at Qalakabusha Maximum Correctional Centre in Empangeni during a raid on Tuesday indicates security failures and deviant behaviour by some Correctional Services officials.
This comes after 37 cellphones, chargers, dagga with a street value of R12 000, traditional medicine, pots and money were found during a 3am surprise search.
According to the department, Qalakabusha Correctional Centre had been flagged as one of the facilities which needed urgent intervention, following a string of escapes and contraband being removed almost daily.
It said that in the 2020/2021 financial year, four inmates escaped and only one has been rearrested.
Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the use of cellphones inside correctional centres should be rooted out.
“These are used to make threats, plan escapes and orchestrate other illegal activities by inmates and their contacts in outside communities. Inmates found in possession of cellphones and other contraband are to be charged in terms of Section 23 (1) of the Correctional Services Act, Act 111 of 1998. They will also be reprimanded accordingly, a process which involves the withdrawal of privileges for a specified period, reclassification (downgrade) and other punitive measures,” said Nxumalo.
He said some of these breaches could have been avoided if correctional centres were correctly managed and operated according to standard operating procedures.
“We have premised a trajectory focused on reshaping the future of corrections in South Africa. A positive move aimed to redefine a correctional system aligned to the aspirations of our country. Yet, we are often confronted with episodes which do not only disrupt operations but are frankly embarrassing to the brown uniform.
“A trajectory towards reshaping the future of corrections means that DCS needs to start with getting the basics right. Today’s (Tuesday) search exercise is yet another testimony that there is a need to pay attention to what is happening at the coalface,” said Nxumalo.
He said they have made it mandatory for every security breach to be fully investigated and corrective measures taken with immediate effect.
“It is important for the institution to continuously review operational procedures so the DCS does not only respond to established breaches but is proactive to prevent disturbances from taking place in the centres.
“Security at all correctional facilities has to be tightened so that we can build capacity to effectively manage and maintain correctional centres by means of supporting programmes, as well as improve inmate productivity, their welfare and rehabilitation,” said Nxumalo.
Nxumalo said that the department would conduct more unannounced raids and that those who flouted departmental policies should expect no mercy.