There is some truth to the recent reports of poisoning and a sex ring inside Mangaung G4S Correctional Facility -- where Thabo Bester staged his infamous escape -- from sometime in May 2022, prison activists say.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is reported to be looking into the allegations of a sex syndicate and poison gang allegedly operating within the facility.
This comes after a “Sunday Times” report alleged that a “leaked document” fingers Bester as being at the centre of a sex syndicate that involves female prison wardens offering sex in exchange for money to inmates and other prison officials.
This alleged document is said to also having unearthed “a poisoning campaign aimed at taking out offenders said to be possible whistle-blowers about the illegal activities happening inside the embattled prison”.
It is further alleged that the syndicate allegedly helped stage Bester’s infamous prison escape from prison.
The Sunday publication reported that there was a plot to kill Bester’s former cellmate Zwelinzima Nquru after he allegedly “saw things” leading up to Bester’s escape.
In a WhatsApp voice note, prison rights activist Golden Miles Bhudu said some of the inmates have landed in hospital as a result of poisoning.
“Yes, there are two prisoners who to date are living in fear after blowing the whistle on prison guards who gave them poison to poison fellow inmates because these prisoners know too much,” Bhudu said.
He described the goings-on, as detailed in the Sunday Times report, as a horror script.
“We have noted the story and for us this is a horror script of a real story. What is important is to bring to the attention of fellow South Africans and those who love the truth that the author did not have the decency to mention us,” he said.
When it comes to the sex syndicate, it is reported that female guards provided sexual services to inmates and other prison officials at a price of R1 000 to R1 500.
Glynnis Marriday of Exclusive Mediators, another non-profit organisation, told “The Star” that she is yet to see the alleged report which has been promised to her as well.
“I am yet to see the report and a source has promised to give me this report afterwards. I am waiting for it to be made available,” she said.
Attempts to get comment from spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services, Singabakho Nxumalo, were unsuccessful.
However, Algoa FM reports that Nxumalo indicated that the department had provided a detailed explanation to the Sunday publication on the alleged leaked report, saying its support team conducted a search at G4S Mangaung centre.
“The DCS National Emergency Support Team conducted a search operation at Mangaung Correctional Centre from May 22-25, 2023,” Nxumalo said.
“The operation also involved gathering of information from inmates and officials, hence part of it was deemed intelligence driven...
“The team was also making observations in terms of security procedures by the Mangaung Correctional Centre,“ Nxumalo is quoted as saying.
He said the Sunday report was based on allegations and not solid evidence, adding that an investigation would be requirement to determine the truthfulness of the allegations.
“A significant amount of detail in that report relates to what offenders verbally provided to the team. Such would call for an in-depth investigation to be conducted in order to ascertain any level of truthfulness.
“That investigation is yet to be concluded as some of its aspects also relate to the Thabo Bester escape incident, currently before court and investigations have not been closed.
“It is unfortunate that the article by the ’Sunday Times’ fails to indicate to the reader that what is reported on is based on allegations and not factual information.”