The DA welcomes the investigation into two videos which show inmates of the Durban Westville correctional facility openly doing drugs and being given weapons by officials. We trust that the implicated officials have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
Once the report is finalised, it must be tabled before the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services to be thoroughly interrogated.
However, it is likely that this is not an isolated incident.
Corruption should have no place in our society yet, it is rife within the entire prison system and the prevalence of gangsterism is well known. Gangsters are well organised and bribe officials which undermine good order within prisons.
Unless this root cause is dealt with, we cannot hope to root out the symptoms of this corruption.
The new Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, cannot hope that the systemic problems in correctional services will disappear as if his appointment will sweep the issues up. For starters, he can ensure that there is strict access control and searches conducted not only on inmates but on prison officials as well.
In 2001 then President, Thabo Mbeki, appointed a judicial commission of inquiry, chaired by Judge Jali, to investigate the allegations of corruption, nepotism and maladministration within the Department of Correctional Services.
The final and extensive report was released in 2006 and numerous officials were held to account. However, since then there seems to have been little headway made into ensuring that the prison system is free of corruption.
The problems within the system are known and it is not difficult to identify what must be done to ensure prisons are places of rehabilitation, not places were criminal activity thrives.
James Selfe MP
DA Shadow Minister on Correctional Services