Prison bosses suspended

2010-07-07 00:00

TWO senior officials of the Correctional Services Department in KwaZulu-Natal have been suspended following allegations that a woman prisoner fell pregnant while in detention.

Regional commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele confirmed the suspension of Westville Prison area commissioner Zeblon Moname and the head of the female section in the prison, Zodwa Manqele.

From June 24, they were placed on “precautionary suspension in order to facilitate the process of an investigation due to an alleged pregnancy of an awaiting trial female detainee that seemingly occurred while in detention,” he said.

Media reports said the woman was forced to undergo an abortion when she was seven months pregnant.

Nxele said the police are investigating the matter since it is alleged that a police officer made the prisoner pregnant.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesperson Kwenza Nxele confirmed that the union is aware of the suspension. He said one of the officials is a member of the union.

“We first heard of the suspension on Wednesday last week [June 30]. We then contacted our members to get the details of the matter.

“None of our members was involved in making the prisoner pregnant,” said Kwenza Nxele.

It is alleged that the sexual intercourse took place while the officer was taking the prisoner to the Durban Magistrate’s Court. It is believed that he promised to drop the charges against her if she agreed to have sex with him. The charges were not dropped.

Kwenza Nxele said the union was shocked on hearing about the suspension of the two officials.

“We were shocked because Moname holds a very high rank in such a big prison.

“We have to get regional commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele to explain to us the details behind the suspension.

“We were going to meet him last Friday, but we had to postpone the meeting to attend a funeral of one of our members in Newcastle on Saturday,” said Popcru’s Nxele.

A source at the prison, who cannot be named for fear of intimidation, said that after officials discovered the pregnancy, the woman was allegedly instructed to have the abortion, the source said.

She later exposed the matter. It is not clear who had told her to have the abortion

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge denied that police are investigating the matter.

“We are aware of the allegations, but we do not investigate something that does not hold water.

“The woman [female prisoner] first said she had been impregnated by a prison warder. Later she changed her statement to say it was a police officer,” said Mdunge.

Mdunge denied that the woman had an abortion. “She gave birth after nine months of her pregnancy.” He said he was not sure when the birth took place.

Kwenza Nxele,Popcru

We were shocked because [Westville area commissioner] Zeblon Moname holds a very high rank.

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