Johannesburg - One of the suspects accused of murdering Hillary Gardee has allegedly been found in possession of a cellphone while behind bars.
It has been alleged that the cellphone was found during a raid conducted by correctional officers.
EFF member and member of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, Michael Collen Sedibe called out correctional service spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo on Twitter for his silence on the alleged discovery.
He accused prison warders of smuggling the device in and branded them as corrupt.
@singanxumalo of Correctional Service is so silent about the raid & discovery of a cellphone smuggled by corrupt warders of @RonaldLamola for exclusive use by accused 2, Philemon Lukhele in the murder & kidnapping of #JusticeForHillaryGardee @EFFSouthAfrica pic.twitter.com/tUS4xqtV8D— collensedibe (@collensedibe) May 24, 2022
Following up on the tweet the Department of Correctional Services confirmed that the allegations by Sedibe were indeed true.
Department spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo responded with a statement which in part reads: “The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) can confirm that Remand Detainee Philemon Lukhele was found to be in possession of a mobile phone on May 24, 2022 at the Nelspruit Correctional Centre. Mobile phones are classified as a contraband inside correctional facilities, thus making them unauthorised items.
“An investigation is currently under way as it is critical to ascertain the circumstances under which this mobile phone was smuggled and the people involved. A criminal case has also been registered with the South African Police Service, CAS 420/05/2022”
He also stated that Lukhele has been transferred to a Maximum Section of the Barberton Correctional Centre.
The statement further places emphasis on the department’s non-tolerance of acts that seek to compromise the safety standards enforced by the department.
The statement continues: “For the country to have safe and secure correctional centres, we expect nothing but strict adherence to safety standards from all those who interface with the Department of Correctional Services. Hence, visitors, inmates, officials and private citizens caught contravening our regulations shall be dealt with through the criminal justice system.”
Nxumalo also made a point that those who are found to be involved will be severely punished.
In closing he said “DCS’ resolve is clear, those involved in the smuggling of contrabands shall never be spared any mercy.”