Another cleanup for our jails, please

2014-06-15 15:00

Today, a City Press investigation reveals what goes on in a single jail cell in just one of the country’s more than 200 prisons.

Cell 14 in Leeuhof Prison, in the Vaal triangle, contains 52 awaiting-trial prisoners in a cell built for about 20.

Our source, a prisoner, revealed in graphic detail his two weeks inside cell 14 in 300 SMSes and 80 cellphone pictures. Not only are conditions horrific – the toilets are filthy and disease is rife – the behaviour of the warders is worse.

In exchange for bribes, warders, our source claims, smuggle in everything from groceries and cellphones to hard drugs – in vast quantities.

“How does 200 Mandrax pills, 10 bags of Swazi dagga, heroin and needles sound? That came in today!” our source texted on May 29 just after 7pm. “The cells are blue with smoke with no warders in sight!”

The warders also smuggle in juvenile prisoners to be raped. While awaiting-trial prisoners are allowed out for exercise twice a week for two hours, those who want sex remain in the cell.

Our source wrote: “Wyfies are bought. The warder brings him in for R100. Two stand at the door and keep watch. The guy who gets raped gets R50. There have been cases of eight guys on one guy in cell 19. They bring the juveniles in from the other side [of the prison] to the cell.”

Sound familiar? These are the same allegations the Jali Commission of Inquiry dealt with from 2001. The commission’s report, released in 2006, appears to have been ignored.

In 2001, at Grootvlei Prison, prisoners filmed large-scale corruption: a juvenile prisoner being sold for sex and warders smuggling in a loaded gun, drugs, alcohol and food.

New Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha urgently needs to act and ensure corrupt warders are rooted out. Unearthing the Jali Commission’s report would be a good place to start.

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