There was a surprise raid at the Qalakabusha Maximum Correctional Centre in Empangeni yesterday.
There was a surprise raid at the Qalakabusha Maximum Correctional Centre in Empangeni yesterday.

Dagga, cellphones seized in Empangeni prison raid a result of 'security failures', says Department of Correctional Services

By Yogashen Pillay Time of article published Oct 13, 2021

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DURBAN - DAGGA worth R12 000 and at least 37 cellphones were among the contraband seized during a surprise raid at the Qalakabusha Maximum Correctional Centre in Empangeni yesterday.

The raid was led by Department of Correctional Services (DCS) Acting National Commissioner, Makgothi Samuel Thobakgale.

The DCS said other items that were recovered included muthi pots and money.

The department said the contraband seized showed that there were lapses in security.

“These items indicate security failures and deviant behaviour by some correctional officials.”

The department said it planned to investigate every security breach and that appropriate action would be taken.

“It is a fact that some of these breaches could be avoided if Correctional Centres operated as per the standard operating procedures and were managed correctly. Hence, we have made it mandatory for every security breach to be fully investigated and corrective measures taken with immediate effect in order to restore normalcy,” the DCS said.

The department said the raid came as a result of Qalakabusha Maximum Correctional Centre being flagged as a correctional centre in need of urgent intervention. It said four prisoners escaped from the correctional centre in the past year.

“Qalakabusha Correctional Centre has been flagged by DCS as one of the facilities in need of urgent intervention following a string of escapes and contraband being removed almost daily. The 2020/2021 financial year has seen a total of four inmates escaping, wherein only one has been rearrested thus far.”

The department highlighted the use of cellphones as one of the reasons inmates have been able to plan prison escapes.

“The use of cellphones inside correctional centres has to be rooted out as we strive towards contraband-free centres. These gadgets are used to make threats, plan escapes and orchestrate other illegal activities by inmates and their contacts in outside communities.”

The department added that inmates found with contraband would be charged and dealt with accordingly.

“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, a process which involves the withdrawal of privileges for a specified period, reclassification (downgrade) and other punitive measures”.

The raid at Qalakabusha Maximum Correctional Centre follows a raid that took place at Polokwane Correctional Centre on October 9.

The department said there would be more raids and promised to come down hard on those found with contraband.

“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 improving inmate productivity, their welfare and rehabilitation. Those who flout departmental policies must expect no mercy.”

Some of the items that were seized in the raid.

THE MERCURY

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