Pris­on­ers need their fam­i­lies, says pri­son boss

Grocott's Mail - - SOUL FOOD - STAFF RE­PORTER

The De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices en­cour­aged fam­i­lies and friends to visit pris­on­ers dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son. This came as the De­part­ment seized mu­sic sys­tems, TV sets, a four pound ham­mer, a de­vice to break win­dows and lots of home­made al­co­hol among other items from one pri­son dur­ing their an­nual Op­er­a­tion Vala.

On Tues­day 20 De­cem­ber 2016, an op­er­a­tion at Losper­fontein Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre in the North West, net­ted var­i­ous con­tra­band items in­clud­ing dagga, tele­vi­sion sets, mu­sic sys­tems, ket­tles, cell­phones, sharp ob­jects, elec­tri­cal ex­ten­sions, a four pound ham­mer, a de­vice to break win­dows and lots of home-made al­co­hol.

This was part of Op­er­a­tion Vala, a se­cu­rity cam­paign to counter of­fend­ers’ smug­gling con­tra­band at the coun­try’s 243 cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties.

Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices Na­tional Com­mis­sioner Zach Modise urged the pub­lic not to fa­cil­i­tate smug­gling.

“We want to re­mind of­fi­cials, in­mates and fam­i­lies of of­fend­ers that you are an ac- ces­sory to crime by as­sist­ing of­fend­ers in smug­gling. We also ac­knowl­edge that there are some rot­ten apples in our De­part­ment that must be rooted out, who are help­ing of­fend­ers smug­gle con­tra­band,” Modise said.

“We also note that the De­part­ment is not ad­e­quately ca­pac­i­tated to deal with the in­flux of cell­phones, although the use of tech­nol­ogy to de­tect cell­phones has al­ready been em­ployed in cer­tain cen­tres. We will con­tinue to en­sure that tough ac­tion is taken against those found guilty of sup­ply­ing in­mates with con­tra­band. We want to urge the pub­lic to play their part by not help­ing of­fend­ers to per­pet­u­ate fur­ther crime through smug­gling,” said Modise.

Modise said an ef­fec­tive cor­rec­tional sys­tem needed sup­port from com­mu­ni­ties.

“One of the chal­lenges fac­ing cor­rec­tional ser­vices is low lev­els of in­mate vis­i­ta­tions by fam­i­lies. This re­duces the req­ui­site emo­tional, and psy­cho­log­i­cal, out­look of in­mates, which is crit­i­cal for ef­fec­tive re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and so­cial rein­te­gra­tion,” Modise said.

“The De­part­ment wishes to en­cour­age fam­i­lies, and com­mu­ni­ties, to visit, and main­tain con­tact with, in­mates.”

Op­er­a­tion Vala started on 12 De­cem­ber 2016, and ends to­day, 6 Jan­uary 2017.

Modise said the De­cem­ber/ Jan­uary hol­i­day is gen­er­ally a pe­riod dur­ing which in­mates are desperate to es­cape for var­i­ous rea­sons, in­clud­ing to par­tic­i­pate in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties or sim­ply to be with fam­ily or friends.

“It is for this rea­son that spe­cial em­pha­sis is placed on se­cu­rity mea­sures in cor­rec­tional cen­tres, with in­creased vis­i­bil­ity, and in­volve­ment, of man­agers at all lev­els in the op­er­a­tional ac­tiv­i­ties,” Modise said.

Fo­cus ar­eas for Op­er­a­tion Vala in­clude tight­en­ing se­cu­rity mea­sures at cor­rec­tional cen­tres, in­creased su­per­vi­sion of of­fi­cials as well as de­creas­ing idle­ness among in­mates.

St Al­ban’s pri­son in Port El­iz­a­beth was put on lock­down, with vis­i­tors turned away, af­ter an at­tempted takeover by pris­on­ers on Box­ing Day left three pris­on­ers dead, and sev­eral guards and pris­on­ers in­jured.

Photo: Glenn Meyer

Par­tic­i­pants in Gra­ham­stown's first mid­sum­mer Des­pa­cho.

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