Inmates warn of rampant drug use in prison
DRUG abuse inside Zonderwater Correctional Centre has become a major problem, inmates have said.
The inmates, calling themselves Concerned Prisoners at Zonderwater Prison, said drug abuse could have serious consequences, including destabilising order at the prison, violence and corruption.
The group claimed the drug trade was a lucrative business in prison, where supply and demand control was everchanging, with continuously steep prices.
The drug of choice was nyaope, because it was easy to conceal and a small amount went a long way, they said.
According to an inmate who was moved from Zonderwater maximum to medium section, the drug problem had reached a new level of severity.
He said inmates used the communal bathrooms for smoking dagga and injecting nyaope, gambling and gang activities.
He said the lawlessness was so prevalent that both prisoners and wardens smoked cigarettes anywhere, including in the passages and the kitchens.
The inmates attributed the drug fiasco and ill-discipline to the wardens, saying they were lazy and incompetent.
They indicated that effective patrolling and policing would control the use and sales of drugs, as well as gangsterism.
Inmates also complained that their avenues for airing grievances were not working, saying that wardens always left complaints unanswered.
“When prisoners complain about these types of activities, they get victimised,” said an inmate.
But most disturbing for the group was the fact that inmates who wanted to kick the addiction were not getting the help they needed.
“What is very difficult to understand is why addicted prisoners do not get special care and rehabilitation through social workers and prison management,” another inmate said. The only rehabilitation some inmates received was from the outside, he added.
Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the department viewed the allegations in a very serious light because, if left unattended, they called into question the integrity and credibility of correctional centres in the country.
“The regional office will urgently constitute an independent task team to establish the veracity of the allegations made by offenders in Zonderwater, and to conduct a full-scale investigation.”