Sex for R20 - in prison

2003-04-27 07:58

Durban - Female prisoners held at Durban's Westville prison have been sneaking out of their female section to engage in prostitution in the prison's male section.

City Press has established that the inmates apparently lied to the prison officials, saying they had undergone sex changes and wanted to be incarcerated in the male section.

Last week the prison authorities found a female prisoner, Denise Wilson, who had managed to stay in the male section since October last year.

A prisoner, who claimed to have been incarcerated with Wilson, alleged she had engaged in prostitution and was suspected of being pregnant when she was exposed. She has been sent back to the female section.

Head of female section Bula Bula said Wilson has been tested for pregnancy and had proved negative but would undergo further tests in the coming weeks because pregnancy sometimes remains undetected in the early stages.

Bula denied another prisoner - a Mrs Kunene - who is serving a life sentence after organising for hitmen to kill her husband, was pregnant.

"It was just a rumour spread by other prisoners," said Bula.

The head of Westville prison, Caiphus Shezi, refused to let City Press speak to the prisoners.

'We all had sex with her'

Department of correctional services spokesperson Vusi Shabalala said the prison authorities had launched a full-scale investigation into the matter.

A prisoner who declined to be named for fear of victimisation, said: "She (Wilson) was here and we all had sex with her, she was charging R20, even the prison warders knew about her. She was very helpful."

Another prisoner, who declined to be named, revealed that female inmates lied to prison officials, saying they had undergone sex change operations and needed to be incarcerated in the male section when they want to engage in prostitution.

"Prisoner Wilson indicated she had commenced the process of having a sex change and thus she was incarcerated in the Medium A (male) prison," said Shezi in a statement.

Prison officials were tipped off and told Wilson had not undergone a sex change.

She was sent to the doctor who confirmed she was a female.

Wilson was in the male section from 1 October to April 18 before being discovered.

Stack of condoms

When she was found out she had a stack of condoms.

Shabalala said condoms were easily available in prison and inmates were encouraged to use them to prevent HIV/Aids.

Westville prison has the highest HIV/Aids infection rate compared to other prisons.

About 200 female inmates are HIV-positive. More than 50 inmates have died of Aids-related illnesses in the recent past.

Asked how authorities failed to establish Wilson was a female when she was searched, as is required by procedure, Shabalala said "she was frisk searched".

"We don't strip people naked anymore, we respect their human rights."

He added the prison also used "x-rays" for metal detection.

However, one inmate said prisoners are still being strip searched because some tend to hide drugs or money in their private parts. These items could not be detected by x-ray.