Durban – Drugs, cellphones and knives were confiscated from prisoners during a search at the Westville Correctional Services facility in Durban. Thirty cellphones, cellphone chargers, mandrax tablets, dagga, ecstasy, knives, other sharp instruments, traditional beer and some cash were found in the cells by wardens and police.
Mnikelwa Nxele, KwaZulu-Natal provincial prison commissioner, said the searches were carried out around the country under Operation Vala before the prisoners were locked up for the festive season.
“The prisoners will not be working outside during the festive season. So before they get locked in during the festive period, we do a thorough search of the cells.
“The entire prison is searched, including the female prisoner blocks,” Nxele said.
Prisoners found with contraband or illegal items would be criminally charged.
During a similar operation in February last year, the Department of Correctional Services began installing cellphone-detection systems at facilities across the country to help narrow down searches to mere metres.
Correctional Services spokesperson Manelisi Wolela said the detection system allowed targeted interventions such as searching in specific areas, as the system was able to pinpoint, with fair accuracy, the location of cellphones.
“The system was put in place at Umzinto Correctional Services. It was a pilot project,” Nxele said.
Between 2010 and 2015, Minister of Correctional Services Mike Masutha said, 98413 illegal communication devices were confiscated from inside prisons from remand detainees and convicted prisoners.
At a raid at Westville Prison last year, authorities discovered 200SIM cards and almost 70phones as well as evidence that one inmate was running a taxi business.
By: Daily News