Youth Month ‘strip­pers’ probe

13 of­fi­cials face sus­pen­sion for in­ap­pro­pri­ate en­ter­tain­ment

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - @Zwane_2li2ls NOKUTHULA ZWANE AND TOBY NGO­MANE

THIR­TEEN Johannesburg Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre of­fi­cials face sus­pen­sion fol­low­ing a Youth Month cel­e­bra­tion that in­cluded scant­ily clad women.

Re­ports sur­faced this week­end of pic­tures taken where al­leged “strip­pers” and in­mates were cel­e­brat­ing Youth Month at the Johannesburg Medium B Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre. The images of the women dressed in what looks like un­der­clothes caused a stir on so­cial me­dia.

De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices act­ing na­tional com­mis­sioner James Smal­berger briefed the me­dia yes­ter­day and did not con­firm whether the women were strip­pers or not.

Smal­berger in­stead said the women’s pres­ence in the prison, pop­u­larly known as Sun City, was a breach of se­cu­rity. “That was a clear breach of the se­cu­rity plan that was pro­vided for the event as well as other rel­e­vant poli­cies and pro­ce­dures,” he said.

He apol­o­gised to South Africans, say­ing the in­ci­dent was un­ac­cept­able.

“We will make sure that those found guilty face the con­se­quences of their ac­tions, and also that suf­fi­cient mea­sures are in place to en­sure that such in­ci­dents are not re­peated.

“This type of con­duct is un­ac­cept­able, par­tic­u­larly in a cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity where se­cu­rity is of paramount im­por­tance.

“At this stage, the pre­lim­i­nary find­ings in­di­cate that at least 13 of­fi­cials will be served with letters of con­tem­pla­tion of sus­pen­sion,” said Smal­berger.

Ac­cord­ing to Smal­berger, the letters would be given to the of­fi­cials once they ex­plained what hap­pened on the day.

“The man­age­ment of the event should never have al­lowed it and im­me­di­ately halted this type of ex­plicit en­ter­tain­ment as pro­nounced by our poli­cies,” said Smal­berger.

Ac­cord­ing to Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices head of com­mu­ni­ca­tion Lo­gan Maistry and Smal­berger, there were six en­ter­tain­ment items ap­proved for the event and the “strip­pers” were not one of them.

This in­ci­dent is the first of its kind, said Smal­berger. “I also wanted to give as­sur­ances that, based on brief­ings that we re­ceived on our visit to the place where this event hap­pened, there was no tax­pay­ers’ money in­volved in this en­ter­tain­ment as we call it. It was noth­ing in terms of the cor­rec­tional ser­vices,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Smal­berger, it was not un­usual to have so­cial events with NGOs re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing pris­on­ers.

“We need to keep in mind that peo­ple in these fa­cil­i­ties will even­tu­ally be re­leased into so­ci­ety. The re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion has many forms and we have what we call sports and recre­ational arts and cul­ture, and you would have seen that some­times we would have ath­letic com­pe­ti­tions and en­ter­tain­ment.

“We have many so­cial partners that are as­sist­ing, where they will par­tic­i­pate in gum­boot danc­ing or go­ing out into so­ci­ety such as schools,” said Smal­berger.

He said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will as­sist in iden­ti­fy­ing whether the women were “strip­pers” or dancers. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is ex­pected to be con­cluded by Fri­day and a re­port handed over to Min­is­ter Michael Ma­sutha.

PIC­TURE: FACE­BOOK

RAUNCHY: In­mates at Johannesburg Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre, also known as Sun City, had an event­ful Youth Day when ‘strip­pers’ were in­vited.

PIC­TURE: NOKUTHULA MBATHA

APOLO­GETIC: James Smal­berger, act­ing na­tional com­mis­sioner of the De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices, at Johannesburg Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre yes­ter­day.

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