Claims of cons drinking cognac dismissed

2013-05-09 22:20

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Johannesburg - There is no basis to the claim that prisoners in KwaZulu-Natal are drinking cognac and watching DStv, regional correctional services commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele said on Thursday.

"We have never had the opportunity to meet a prisoner who is having a cognac or a whisky in prison," he said.

Nxele was responding to a report that a parliamentary portfolio committee, particularly its chairman Vincent Smith, was dissatisfied with information supplied by the correctional services department about violence in prisons.

"Your submission is very sparse. Nowhere did you mention cellphones in prisons. Nobody spoke about prison officials conspiring with prisoners to smuggle in cellphones," Smith was quoted as saying in the report.

He reportedly said DStv-walkas were being smuggled into jails, along with drugs.

"In Durban-Westville they're drinking Hennessy. We get calls at midnight, because some of them are affiliated to us," he said.

"Twelve o'clock at night: 'No, I'm sitting here with a Hennessy and a DStv-walka and I'm watching Liverpool against Arsenal'."

Nxele said Smith should have called the minister of correctional services to say he had received such a call from a prisoner.

"I don't accept that there is a prisoner having cognac and calling Members of Parliament."

He said the discussion between the department and the committee was not supposed to be about prisons in Westville.

"We do operations [in the prisons] on a monthly basis, over [and above] the daily sessions," Nxele said.

"In our sessions we find all manner of things: cellphones, dagga, mandrax, and whoonga [a street drug made from antiretrovirals], but we have never come across bottles of alcohol in our searches."

He said officials were constantly trying to prevent smuggling of "unauthorised objects" into KwaZulu-Natal prisons.

Read more on:    durban  |  prisons

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