Prisoners need their families, says prison boss
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.
Participants in Grahamstown's first midsummer Despacho.