Tumelo Waga Dibakwane
A joint operation between the Department of Correctional Services and SAPS Mpumalanga Public Order Policing (POP),saw inmates in the maximum security prison in Barberton with illegal and contraband substances, caught red handed. Drugs and other illegal products are smuggled into the prison by friends, family members and corrupt wardens. According to Hlungwani Mesia, this was also to show commitment in providing full rehabilitation to offenders.
“The department requested manpower from SAPS and 97 police officers from Ermelo, Middelburg and Nelspruit took hand with 18 members of the Emergency Special Team (EST) during the operation in the early morning hours of Friday last week.
The raid was successful and the team managed to search more than 700 maximum offenders and confiscated 28 cell phones, sim cards with airtime, a WiFi-router, 1.5kg of dagga, money to the value of R2523.30 and 7 sharp objects. “The department is pleased with the success of this operation since it has managed to clean-up the centre. We believe that contraband pose a serious danger to our offenders as they can use those objects to harm fellow inmates” said Hlungwani. Offenders who were caught with illegal items will face criminal charges ranging from dealing with dagga and smuggling of contraband.
“The use of cell phones behind bars by offenders is strictly restricted as this poses a serious risk to communities with offenders arranging criminal activities via cell phones. The use of drugs by offenders is also at cross-purposes of rehabilitation programmes. “Many offenders committed crimes wile under the influence, so it is of paramount importance for Correctional Services to create an environment conducive for proper rehabilitation to take place” explained Hlungwani.
This confiscated cash is believed to have been accumulated through the sales of dagga. This money will be deposited into a state revenue account, while confiscated cell phones will be handed over to intelligence for forensic investigations.
The department has also managed to apprehend 16 smugglers this year only and 11 of them were convicted of contravening Correctional Services act, while others are still on trial. Another stern warning has been issued to the community to refrain from smuggling and working with offenders as this has dire consequences