Correctional Services on annual Operation Vala security campaign

Operation Vala cleans Correctional Centers of Contraband

Tempted to regain their freedom during the festive season, inmates never seize to tap into their creative minds to find ways to smuggle contraband into correctional centres. The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) annual Operation Vala security campaign results in numerous unauthorised items being confiscated from offenders, as part of search operations to counter offenders’ smuggling contraband at the country’s 243 correctional facilities.

On Tuesday (20 December 2016), an operation, at Losperfontein Correctional Centre in the North West, netted various contraband items including dagga, television sets, music systems, kettles, cellphones, sharp objects, electrical extensions, a four pound hammer, a device to break windows and lots of home-made alcohol.

Correctional Services National Commissioner, Zach Modise, said smuggling is an assisted process, and urged the public to play their part by not helping offenders to perpetuate further crimes through smuggling. We want to remind officials, inmates and families of offenders that you are an accessory to crime by assisting offenders in smuggling as well as the provision of illegal, unauthorised items. We also acknowledge that there are some rotten apples in our Department that must be rooted out, who are helping offenders smuggle contraband. We also note that DCS is not adequately capacitated to deal with the influx of cellphones, although the use of technology to detect cellphones has already been employed in certain centres. We will continue to ensure that tough action is taking against those found guilty of supplying inmates with contraband. We want to urge the public to play their part by not helping offenders to perpetuate further crime through smuggling, said Modise.

DCS alone can never achieve the ideals of an effective correctional system. An important facet is our partnership with communities. One of the challenges facing correctional services is low levels of inmate visitations by families. This reduces the requisite emotional, and psychological, outlook of inmates, which is critical for effective rehabilitation and social re-integration. The disintegration of family life, and community, is a major contributor to crime. Supporting, and rebuilding, family ties should be central to efforts to prevent, and respond to, crime. In numerous instances, incarceration diminishes contact with close relatives and undermines the family connections that could aid in restoration, especially for young offenders. Likewise, maintaining community, and family connections, can help offenders understand the harm they’ve done and prepare them for reintegration into society. In this regard, DCS wishes to encourage families, and communities, to visit, and maintain contact with, inmates, Modise said.

Operation Vala commenced on 12 December 2016, and ends on 6 January 2017. The December/January holiday period is, generally, a period during which inmates are desperate to escape for various reasons, which include, amongst others, to participate in criminal activities or simply to be with family or friends. It is for this reason that special emphasis is placed on security measures in correctional centres, with increased visibility, and involvement, of managers at all levels in the operational activities. Focus areas for Operation Vala include tightening security measures at correctional centres, increased supervision of officials as well as decreasing idleness amongst inmates.

Source: Government of South Africa

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