Shock as inmate flaunts from prison

2020-02-03 13:30
Screenshots from Mnqobi Khanyile's Facebook page.

Screenshots from Mnqobi Khanyile's Facebook page.

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Is he brazen, reckless or does he just not care if he’s caught out?

This is the question Weekend Witness reporters wondered when they stumbled onto photos of a prison inmate posting pictures of himself on Facebook whilst behind bars and fully clad in prison uniform.

Prisoner Mnqobi Khanyile (19), who goes by the name Mnqobrie Khanyile Ngwane on Facebook, took to his own Facebook page and one called New Prison to show his Facebook friends what he was up to in jail.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Correctional Services confirmed that Khanyile is indeed incarcerated at the Medium A Correctional Centre in New Prison. He is serving a 10-year sentence for house breaking, robbery and assault.

From February last year, Khanyile has been posting selfies, pictures with other prisoners and messages about how he finds prison life on Facebook. Some of his pictures are captioned “just in prison” and “prison is boring”. Another says: “Everyday and every hour we just smoking weed but one day we will smoke out of new prison naaah.” One picture shows a man smoking.

On March 20, 2019, a post by Khanyile says he is with Bassie Molefe and Cizwezn Molefe at Westville Prison-Correctional Services.

Translated from Zulu to English, another of his posts reads: “Going to prison helped me because now I know who are the people who were making a fool of me, enjoying the blood money I got from killing and robbing but now they can’t even buy me R12 Vodacom airtime. But it’s fine, prison won’t break me, you will all see shocking things when I come out.”

Screenshots from Mnqobi Khanyile's Facebook page.

Screenshots from Mnqobi Khanyile's Facebook page.

Some of his Facebook friends comment on his posts, wishing him well and encouraging him to stay strong whilst in prison. The youngster’s last post was last Friday.

Violence monitor and analyst Mary de Haas was shocked to learn that an inmate was seen flaunting himself on Facebook.

“Prison authorities should be held accountable for this and explain how this is happening.

“If prisoners get uncontrolled communication with people outside and the Internet, they can easily plot more crimes whilst in prison using these cell phones.”

De Haas said prisoners having cell phones in prison was “a mockery of our justice system”.

“When you go to prison it might be because you raped someone, murdered, or robbed someone so now imagine the victims stumbling on the perpetrator flaunting on Facebook. It’s not fair on the victims.

“This is bad, but it’s also not a surprise because every time the prison authorities do raids, they always find cell phones and drugs inside,” said De Haas.

She said in her experience, prisoners were not allowed to have cell phones and as far as she knew, the only thing that is being contested was whether prisoners can access computers for study purposes.

“I think them having access to computers for study purposes is better because with computers there are several programmes you can use to monitor what sites were used and to prevent them from using certain sites.

“Imprisonment should be a punishment and it’s no longer a punishment if inmates have access to the outside world and social media. It’s pathetic. Prison authorities should be held accountable,” said De Haas.

Within hours of learning about Khanyile’s prison posts, Thulani Mdluli, spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), said security officials seized two cell phones, a charger and earphones in Khanyile’s possession.

Mdluli said the offender has been internally charged with possession of an illegal item. He will then appear before the Case Management Committee (CMC), for further possible judgment against his sentence and benefits, and an internal investigation will be instituted very soon.

He said the security policy of the department is based on six pillars. “These include personnel security, physical security, information security, operational security, technology security and management supervision. Even though we have fundamental strategies to ensure safety and security, corrections remains a societal responsibility.

“As DCS we are ... dealing against these activities by applying regular surprise searching, follow-up on information received through tip-offs, visibility of officials and by means of body searching inmates, proper use of walk-through metal detectors, use of X-ray scanners and, lastly, use of CCTV cameras, depending on the availability in centres,” explained Mdluli.

He added that the department was calling for a partnership between them and all constituencies to assist in preparing all inmates for successful reintegration. “Smuggling behaviour must be stopped, and it begins with us, in order for us to achieve sensible restorative justice,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  prison

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