Business as usual in Leeuhof Prison

2014-06-22 15:01

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It was business as usual this week at Gauteng’s Leeuhof Prison.

Gangsters and wardens are still smuggling ­dagga, heroin and crack cocaine, criminals are still hiding knives and sharpened objects in the “mineshaft” and inmates are stockpiling ­condoms for sex.

That’s according to an inmate who sent SMSes to CityPress from inside the prison just a week after we exposed an orgy of corruption, smuggling and rape in Leeuhof, and after the acting national commissioner of correctional services promised stern action to root out dishonesty in his department.

Another inmate of the prison’s awaiting-trail section came forward this week and provided CityPress with more ­evidence of the conditions in which awaiting-trial prisoners live in Leeuhof.

The prisoner, who asked not be named, sent CityPress a video that allegedly shows two inmates having sex in his cell after one “ordered” and paid for the other.

CityPress has no way to independently verify the video or any of the photographs, but we have established that the prisoner is incarcerated in the awaiting-trial section of Leeuhof and that he does have a cellphone. We spoke to him on the phone from inside the prison, which is near Vereeniging.

The video, which was taken on a cellphone and is of bad quality, shows men engaging in an activity on a bed partly covered with sheets and shirts.

The prisoner says he shot it late last year after a warden allegedly brought a younger inmate – “20 years old or so”– to the cell to have sex with an older inmate who had ­“ordered” him.

He claimed that both the warden and the younger ­prisoner were paid for their “trouble”.

He said there were also incidents where younger prisoners sold themselves for money, and he was aware of a case in which a young inmate was raped by eight older prisoners.

The prisoner also sent photographs to CityPress on Wednesday and Thursday which show large amounts of dagga and heroin in his cell and an inmate smoking crack cocaine through a thin glass pipe.

He also photographed a collection of sharpened objects, a screwdriver, a blade, a cellphone and condoms, and said: “Knife we use to protect ourselves and condoms for sex.”

His revelations about life in Leeuhof follow those of fraud accused Eugene Viljoen last week when he sent 80 photographs and 300 text messages to CityPress lifting the lid on the prison.

Viljoen claimed in his messages that Leeuhof was horribly overcrowded, much of the prison had no water, toilets did not work, wardens were corrupt, drug smuggling and abuse was rife, and young inmates were routinely raped.

Photographs showed Viljoen and his cell mates smoking dagga and Mandrax. He also exposed the so-called mineshaft in the bathroom – a plumbing hole under the basins – where the inmates stash their contraband.

In the wake of Viljoen’s allegations, the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services moved him to a single cell to ensure that he was safe from victimisation or intimidation.

The inspectorate started interviewing Viljoen last ­weekend while the Hawks formed a task team, headed by Gauteng commander Major General Shadrack Sibiya, to ­investigate allegations of corruption, rape and drug dealing in the prison.

Correctional Services spokesperson Manelisi Wolela said this week that a full-scale investigation into corruption at Leeuhof started on Tuesday.

He said “pockets of fraud” still existed in some prisons.

Acting national commissioner Zach Modise admitted on Radio 702 this week that the department did not have ­adequate mechanisms like CCTV cameras to counter corruption. He said that “rampant corruption” was especially rife in jails in urban areas.

The prisoner CityPress spoke to this week said: “It is business as usual. Drugs are still coming in via the visitors and corrupt wardens. It is just that they are very cautious and there are fewer drugs. But the guys smoke and smuggle every day.”

He said there were lots of senior correctional services ­officials at the prison this week who urged inmates to come forward and expose corrupt prison wardens and inmates who smuggle drugs.

“The guys are scared. Wardens have told us that we must say that Eugene has lied. They say we will be rewarded. They are also concocting plans for alibis. If we don’t play along, we will be punished,” the inmate claimed.

The inmate, who has been in Leeuhof’s awaiting-trial section for several years, said he was willing to fully cooperate with investigators to clean up the mess in prison.

“They [the wardens] say nothing will happen to them. Please help us. It is not safe in here.”

CityPress forwarded his request to the Judicial Inspectorate so that he could possibly be guarded and interviewed. On Friday, Judicial Inspectorate legal manager Umesh Raga said the prisoner had been interviewed, but he did not want to be moved to a single cell.

The prisoner confirmed this. “What about my telephone? It’s difficult to hide it in a single cell.”

Cellphones are illegal in prison. Raga warned third parties to be “circumspect” about ­information received from an inmate.

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