Johannesburg – At least 13 prison officials are expected to be suspended after explicit photographs depicting prisoners with scantily-clad women surfaced on social media over the weekend.
Acting national commissioner James Smalberger said the officials include top management at the Johannesburg Correctional Centre, also known as "Sun City".
"The preliminary findings indicate that at least 13 officials will be served with letters of contemplation of suspension."
As part of the correctional services' Youth Month event on June 21, three dancers dressed in sexy black bodysuits and knee-high boots formed part of the entertainment for the prisoners.
The images of the women depict one of them undressing a prisoner, while another woman is shown embracing another prisoner as prison officials watched.
"The form of entertainment as depicted on social media was not approved as it was not in line with the Department of Correctional Services' policies and procedures, which are clear in terms of appropriate clothing behaviour when inside a correctional environment," said Smalberger.
He said six items were approved youth day events, but the item which included the female dancers was not cleared by the department.
'Clear breach of security plan'
Smalberger added that management went ahead with the female dancers despite the department's instructions.
"The management of the event should have never allowed and immediately halted this type of entertainment..."
He condemned the incident with contempt, adding that the department wanted to make it clear that it would leave no stone unturned in dealing with the matter.
Minister of Correctional Services Michael Masutha directed Smalberger and senior officials to report to Sun City prison to be briefed on the outcomes of the preliminary investigation, he said.
The investigation was initiated shortly after the photos were posted on social media on Saturday, June 24, he said. It will be led by a senior director in the correctional services outside of Johannesburg.
"There was a clear breach of the security plan that was provided for the event, as well as other relevant [policies] and procedures. This type of conduct is unacceptable, particularly in a correctional facility where security is of paramount importance."
Smalberger said the final report was scheduled for June 30 and he expects that more prison officials would be suspended.
Apologising to the nation, he said: "We will make sure that those found guilty face the consequences of their actions and also that sufficient measures are in place to ensure that such incidents are not repeated."