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SA's prison system in crisis, says DA

Sapa

The Democratic Alliance says reports of drug smuggling and the bribery of warders at Leeuhof Prison is a sign of a system in crisis.

Awaiting-trial inmate Eugene Viljoen sent the newspaper hundreds of text messages and dozens of cellphone pictures detailing life in the prison.(Reuters)

“Today’s [Sunday] media revelations that warders at Leeuhof Prison have been helping prisoners smuggle various contraband in and out of the prison is outrageous and a symptom of a system in crisis,” said DA parliamentarian James Selfe in a statement.

On Sunday, the City Press newspaper reported that Leeuhof Prison in Vereeniging was rife with corruption. Allegations included that warders were paid to smuggle in drugs and even provide juvenile inmates for others to rape.

This was according to an awaiting-trial inmate Eugene Viljoen who sent the newspaper hundreds of text messages and dozens of cellphone pictures detailing life in the prison.

“In here they smuggle dagga, phones, Mandrax and heroin, all at a price. Guards do anything for money, anything. Everyone is corrupt,” Viljoen told the newspaper.

In response, Selfe said the disciplinary system for prison employees who violates rules must be more effectively implemented.

“Disciplinary procedures need to be conducted rapidly as at present there is no immediate consequence for suspended officials and some remain on suspension for months, even years.”

Selfe also said security searches should be carried out in a standardised way across all prisons in the country.

“Unless we eliminate these problems and focus on rehabilitation; South Africa’s prisons will remain a hotbed of violence, corruption, scandal and rights violations.”

The paper reported that the Hawks raided the cell which Viljoen had reported on and seized cellphones, sim cards and money – but no drugs.

Their investigation is continuing. – Sapa

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