Toddler used to smuggle phone
A 25-year-old Eastern Cape woman used her two-year-old toddler to try to smuggle a cellphone to her lover inside the St Albans maximum security prison at Christmas.
The Blackberry stuffed into the baby’s nappies was detected when visitors were searched.
The woman was banned from visiting the man for a year, acting provincial correctional services department commissioner Noziphiwo Dumbela said.
Operation Vala, which ran from December 17 to 20, uncovered 530 cellphones, 183 chargers with 192 batteries, in Mdantsane, East London, Port Elizabeth, Mthatha and Grahamstown prisons.
Department spokesperson Vuyo Gadu said the woman would not reveal who the smuggled cellphone was intended for, but officials suspected it was for her boyfriend.
Gadu said in terms of an amendment to chapter three of the Correctional Services Act, cellphones were barred because they were known to help inmates engage in further criminal activities and were a security threat.
Dumbela said: “All visitors are searched at the access control [waiting area] and this par- ticular visitor was sent back home because of the contraband found on the toddler.”
She said the correctional services department was sending out a stern warning to members of the public to desist from assisting inmates to smuggle contraband, saying they could be arrested.
Dumbela said members of the public were often found to have colluded with inmates to smuggle contraband.
“They always find new ways of smuggling contraband in and that is why we have decided not to leave anything to chance and open every item brought by visitors.
“We once found drugs inside body lotion and inside a block of margarine.”
Dumbela said the smuggling was a safety risk.
“It is our mandate as the department to ensure that all people in South Africa are and feel safe.”
The national operation to prevent festive season escapes and violence at all 243 SA prisons was conducted at five East Cape prisons.
Drugs, including 307 packets of mandrax and large quantities of dagga, were also discovered, along with four knives and 85 sharpened objects. Liquor and cash were also seized from cells at the five prisons. –