Correctional Services officials raid cells at Westville prison

Cell phones, cell phone chargers, earphones, ear buds, a power bank, MiFi internet router and money among other items.

Contraband, excluding the torch, confiscated from cells at Westville prison. Picture: Supplied.

Published Dec 1, 2023


The cells and belongings of inmates at Westville Prison were searched for contraband on Thursday during an early morning raid by Department of Correctional Services officials as part of a security operation.

The department said cellphones, cellphone chargers, earphones, earbuds, a power bank, internet router and money were among the items found.

Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the search, known as the National Festive Season Security Operations Plan, was aimed at getting rid of illegal items.

“Those caught with contraband are criminally charged,” he said.

National Commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale was present during the raid.

Speaking at the launch of the operation, Thobakgale said the safety of both correctional officials and inmates was important.

“The safety of our correctional officials is our number one priority.

We continue to live under a cloud of insecurity following several recent attacks on law enforcement officials, including our own correctional officials and correctional facilities.

“This shocking, and appalling behaviour by those who try to stop law enforcement agencies from carrying out their duties will not be tolerated. An attack on law enforcement institutions is an attack on the State, and government views this in the most serious light,” he said.

Thobakgale said overcrowding, gang activities, contraband smuggling and violence had become pervasive issues that not only jeopardised the lives of those within the facilities, but also posed a threat to communities to which offenders eventually returned.

He said these challenges underscore the pressing necessity to enhance security measures within correctional centres.

According to Thobakgale, the festive season poses specific risks, including heightened emotions and increased social interactions among inmates.

“It is during these times that our collective vigilance becomes even more critical. However, I need to stress that the Festive Season Plan is not just about maintaining security but about fostering an environment where everyone – both inmates and staff – can experience a sense of peace and stability,” he said.

He said to achieve this, the department would implement multi-faceted operations including increased vigilance where surveillance systems are enhanced and the frequency of security checks increased.

Other operations include increased visitor traffic monitoring and positive inmate engagement programmes.

“Clear communication with both officials and inmates is essential. Our task is to keep everyone informed about the measures being taken, the importance of co-operation and the consequences of disruptive behaviour,” said Thobakgale.