Prisons to crack down on smoking

The Department of Correctional Services has promised to crack down on smoking at Cape Town’s Pollsmoor prison following a Labour Court challenge by a warder.

In a settlement made an order of court this week, the department and Minister of Correctional Services Ngconde Balfour agreed to do “whatever is required” to ensure that the law is “strictly observed and complied with” at Pollsmoor.

Any employees or prisoners breaching the law or the policy will be disciplined.

Warder Rosemary Fielies, who has worked for the department for about 23 years, said in an affidavit the department has an obligation to provide a working environment “that is safe and without risk to my health and well-being”.

She said Pollsmoor officials have repeatedly ignored her requests to enforce observance of both the legislation that restricts smoking in public places and the department’s own smoking policy, which limits smoking to designated areas.

She said she suffered a “depressive relapse” as a result of the continued passive smoking she was forced to endure.

National Council against Smoking spokesperson Peter Ucko welcomed the ruling, saying it is significant because it asserts an employee’s right to protection from smoke in the workplace.

Though there may have been similar decisions in the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, it is the first court order of which he is aware.—Sapa


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