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Prisons to get full body scanners

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Seven prisons have been identified. None are in the Northern Cape.

Full body scanners are to be installed at seven of the most problematic prisons by month end to curb smuggling, Minister Ronald Lamola said. The Groenpunt maximum security prison in the Free State is one of the prisons identified to receive body scanners. File picture: Itumeleng English

Parliament – Full body scanners are to be installed at seven of South Africa’s most problematic prisons by month end to curb smuggling, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola announced on Wednesday.

Addressing a media briefing, Lamola expressed concern about several videos that have gone viral depicting prisoners engaging in illegal acts while behind bars. 

“We will be engaging organised labour in our sector and the National Prosecuting Authority on a zero tolerance policy when it comes to smuggling of contraband in our facilities,” Lamola said.

“Errant officials involved in the smuggling craft and other offences will not be spared any mercy. These officials will be summarily dismissed, and if a member of the public is found with contraband they must be subject to a very harsh sentence.”

Lamola said senior prisons officials were being taken to task and suspended after several videos went viral showing inmates doing drugs and warders arming inmates and encouraging them to fight fellow prisoners.

The scanners are to be installed at Durban Westville, St Albans in Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Kgosi Mampuru II in Pretoria, Pollsmoor in Cape Town, Barberton in Mpumalanga and Groenpunt in the Free State.

The minister said investigations into two incidents — one involving a convicted killer snorting what appeared to be drugs and another showing inmates assaulting each other with batons supplied by warders — revealed both had happened at the Durban Medium B facility.

“From the evidence gathered, it has been found that the investigation was conducted and submitted to the delegated authority for approval and sadly, nothing was done beyond that,” said Lamola.

Lamola said three inmates captured in the videos have been identified. They are Ruwain Meer serving a life sentence for double murder, Sanele Nyalane, who is serving a 15-year sentence for robbery with aggravating circumstances, and Langa Gumede, who is also serving a 15-year sentence for robbery with aggravating circumstances.

“The three identified inmates were then transferred to the only ultramax facility in South Africa, which is called eBongweni in Kokstad. This is a referral centre not just for hardened criminals, it caters for inmates with extreme behavioural challenges,” said Lamola.

The national commissioner has also recommended that a senior manager be suspended and appointed an acting area commissioner for the Durban management area.

New management has also been appointed to St Albans Correctional Centre in Port Elizabeth where several videos of inmates partying and doing drugs have surfaced. 

African News Agency (ANA)