LIFE IN prison is not easy . . . and it’s not supposed to be. But inside the cells, state-of-the art cellphones, cash and luxury items can be found everywhere. It seems, at Leeuwkop Prison, life behind bars can be a life of luxury.
Even items that are beyond most citizens’ reach – like honey, mayonnaise and bling clothing – are found everywhere in the prison near Sunninghill, north of Jozi. Yesterday, officials pounced on the prison in a surprise raid. Among items found were knives, scissors, needles and dagga.
Smartphones were found hidden under prisoners’ beds and inside mattresses. The cells are tiny, with little room for movement, and there are toilets right next to the beds. But inmates have managed to make life very comfortable.
Correctional services spokesman Mocheta Monama ama said TVs were allowed if inmates applied for them through the department so they could be informed about the outside world. But a lot still needed to be done to stop smuggling in prisons. Monama said they would investigate whether the plasma TV found its way into the prison through the correct channels.
Leading the raid yesterday, Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla said the unannounced raids were aimed at tightening security across all prisons.
During the raid one inmate was found to be knitting clothes, including warders and inmates’ uniforms. It was unclear where he got his material and who he bought it from, but Makwetla said they would investigate.
“The operation has revealed things that are of concern and gave us more information about what is really happening. “Management must seriously plan and make up for shortcomings we’ve witnessed during this operation.”
Makwetla said this included ensuring that offenders couldn’t contact the outside world. Makwetla, asked how he thought the goods got into the prison, said the department was aware that officials were colluding with prisoners More than 100 warders faced disciplinary action while many had been fired, but there was still more work to be done.
Last week Joburg Prison, also known as Sun City, was raided and cells and lockers thoroughly searched. Sharp objects, money, dagga, nyaope, cellphones, starter packs and an electric frying pan were found. Some of the jailbirds frantically hid their illegal stuff in their mouths while others hid all sorts of things inside their shoes and under blankets. Both raids were conducted under Operation Vala.