Four prisons to be extended to house more inmates and increase security
The ministry of correctional services on Wednesday said it was extending four prisons across the country in order to tackle overcrowding.
Ministry spokesperson Logan Maistry said they were extending the Estcourt, Standerton and Tzaneen facilities, as well as the Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria.
"The facilities will provide a total bed capacity of 1,542. They will also add to the range of measures we are undertaking to deal with overcrowding, which leads to security compromises among other undesirable outcomes," Maistry said in a statement providing an update on the state of security in the 243 national prisons.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, 3,847 correctional service officers were found guilty of misconduct.
"Of these, 128 were dismissed while 2,743 were issued with warnings. A total of 99 officials were suspended without pay," said Maistry.
Infiltration of contraband and escapes were listed among the top security breaches.
These crimes were not just being committed by prison authorities but by visitors too.
"Following a tip-off, the department conducted a sting operation on Saturday (November 17) at the DCS emergency support team at the Baviaanspoort correctional centre in Tshwane.
Officials caught two young women in possession of drugs and alcohol which were destined for inmates they were ostensibly visiting.
"The suspects are behind bars and an investigation, which also seeks to establish the complicity of some DCS officials, is under way," Maistry said.
This was not an isolated incident, with similar incidents at the Boksburg, Modderbee and Johannesburg Central prisons earlier this month.
"The operations led to the confiscation of drugs and other contraband."
Two officials at Boksburg were caught supplying inmates with drugs and the matter has been referred to the Hawks, he said.
Tightening of security is a priority.
"On December 3, the DCS will launch 'Operation Vala' to prevent festive season-related escapes and assaults. There will be increased supervision of officials as well as decreasing idleness among inmates. Operation Vala will run to January 11," Maistry said.