No mercy for 'crooked' prison officials, says correctional services minister Ronald Lamola
Correctional services minister Ronald Lamola said 32 officials working in correctional centres across the country were disciplined in the past year for involvement in corrupt activities.
Lamola said of those investigated, 17 were dismissed, five were dismissed without pay, five received final written warnings and four received written warnings.
He said five officials resigned before their hearings could be finalised and only one of the 32 officials was found not guilty.
Errant officials involved in smuggling and other offences would not be shown any mercy, said Lamola, adding that there were officials who were hellbent on “destroying the gospel of rehabilitation in this country”.
He said an investigation into the Durban Westville Maximum Centre found that several officials had been linked to drug smuggling into the prision.
Lamola said nine officials were identified by the department's investigation.
“Out of the nine officials, four are currently suspended, three are placed alternatively, one is yet to return to work and the other official could not be suspended based on the response that he provided to the investigating team,” he said.
Lamola said it emerged that two officials colluded with an offender to record video footage of inmates taking drugs at the prison.
“This information came to the fore when offenders were found with a cellphone containing activities of corruption and smuggling involving our own officials,” he said.
Lamola said by the end of March there were 162,875 inmates in South African prisons, despite there being only 118,572 beds.
“This is a disturbing picture, even more pressing is that our overcrowding challenges could become a norm in some of our centres if not managed properly,” he said.
Lamola said correctional services faced a huge issue with awaiting-trial inmates, who were incarcerated for years before their trials began.
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