DA spokesman James Selfe. File picture: ANA/Jonisayi Maromo

Durban - The Democratic Alliance has welcomed the investigation into two videos which allegedly show inmates of the Durban Westville correctional facility openly doing drugs and being given weapons by officials.

"We trust that the implicated officials have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation," DA spokesman James Selfe said on Sunday.

According to media reports, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has ordered an investigation into the matter.

Selfe said that once the report had been finalised, it should be tabled in Parliament's correctional services portfolio committee to be thoroughly interrogated. However, it was likely that this was not an isolated incident.

Corruption should have no place in society, yet it was rife within the entire prison system and the prevalence of gangsterism was well known. Gangsters were well organised and bribed officials which undermined good order within prisons.

"Unless this root cause is dealt with, we cannot hope to root out the symptoms of this corruption," he said.

Lamola could not hope that the systemic problems in correctional services would disappear "as if his appointment will sweep the issues up". For starters, he could ensure that there was strict access control and searches conducted not only on inmates but on prison officials as well.

In 2001, then president Thabo Mbeki appointed a judicial commission of inquiry, chaired by Judge Jali, to investigate the allegations of corruption, nepotism, and maladministration within the department of correctional services, Selfe said.

The final and extensive report was released in 2006 and numerous officials were held to account. However, since then there seemed to have been little headway made in ensuring that the prison system was free of corruption.

The problems within the system were known and it was not difficult to identify what had to be done to ensure prisons were places of rehabilitation, not places were criminal activity thrived, Selfe said.

African News Agency (ANA)