In­mates warn of ram­pant drug use in prison

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SAKHILE NDLAZI

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.”

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