The role of the department of correctional services is to contribute to a just, peaceful and safer country through the effective, humane incarceration of inmates and the rehabilitation and social integration of offenders. A Saturday Citizen photographer w
Saturday Citizen photographer Michel Bega went to a maximum security prison, the Leeuwkop Correctional Facility, north of Bryanston, for the inside scoop.
A prison warder at the gate of the maximum security facility at the Leeuwkop Correctional Facility, north of Bryanston. The facility is home to convicted Czech mobster Radovan Krejcir.
2. TIME CAPSULE
Inmates in the maximum-security facility. The Leeuwkop Correctional Facility accommodates 4 259 prisoners and is more than 30% overcrowded. Offenders are serving time for aggressive, sexual and economic crimes. Their sentences range from two to 100 years imprisonment, with one serving 101 years for multiple robberies.
The entrance to a courtyard in the maximum security area. According to correctional services spokesperson Mocheta Monama, overcrowding creates challenges for the department. ‘The provision of rehabilitation programmes is affected. Security may at times be compromised and the provision of basic services is stretched due to the high intake of inmates.’
4. BEDDING DOWN
An inmate in a dormitory in maximum-security. ‘The department continues to put measures in place to ensure service delivery is not impacted and security is not affected. There is a shortage of staff due to a high turnover and budget cuts. However, we continue to ensure that our facilities are centres of rehabilitation and are secure at all times,’ says Monama.
5. AIMING HIGHER
Inmate Bafana Hasani, 31, sits on his bed in a maximum security dorm, next to a photograph of himself collecting his civil engineering qualification, which he attained in the facility. Offenders can further their education while in the system. During my visit I observed a group of inmates writing an exam.
6. SMOKE BREAK
Prisoners walk through a courtyard. A growing challenge is the use of cellphones. ‘These gadgets are used to make threats, plan escapes and in the orchestration of illegal activities even while behind bars,’ says Singabakho Nxumalo, director of public education, stakeholder relations and media services. ‘Offenders are reprimanded.’
7. SOUL FOOD
There is a chapel at the facility. While I was there some prisoners were taking an art class. According to one, who did not want to be named, gangs are a big problem. He attempts to stay away from them by getting involved in various workshops and classes.
Former Boeremag member Kobus Pretorius has been in prison since 2002, following his arrest for his involvement in a plot to overthrow the ANC government. He has served at a number of prisons, but enjoys the Leeuwkop facility as the dorms open up on to courtyards, as opposed to passageways. ‘I grew up on a farm, so I enjoy the sky and open space,’ he says.
9. MAKING A MARK
A prisoner is seen in the medical ward. ‘Medical care is also under strain due to overcrowding,’ says Monama. A total of 55 patients there have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. ‘We have made the screening of offenders upon admission a mandatory practice, as it provides an opportunity to detect and treat previously unmet healthcare needs,’ Nxumalo says.
10. SEEING THE LIGHT
A tattooed offender is seen working in the upholstery workshop. The facility also has steel and wood workshops where offenders are taught to manufacture furniture, among other things. The Leeuwkop facility also has a piggery and a dairy, which introduces inmates to a possible career in agriculture.