By Carmel Loggenberg-Roberts
CAPE TOWN, Nov 25 (NNN-SABC) — The Department of Correctional Services in South Africa’s Western Cape province says prisons in the province will be in lock-down state during the coming year-end festive season to prevent escape attempts, which frequently occur during this time of the year.
“Operation Vala” was first introduced in 2005 and has helped contribute to a decline in the number of escapes made during this holiday period. Forty nine escapes were reported in 2015 compared with 60 reported the year before.
This year’s campaign to curb prison break-outs was launched at the Pollsmoor Correctional facility here Tuesday. There a heavy shake-down of offenders, with inspections conducted to ensure they had no arsenal to help with daring escape attempts.
Sharp objects posing a danger to fellow inmates and wardens were found and the prison authorities said there was a need to crack down on these illegal practices.
Correctional Services Regional Commissioner Delekile Klaas said: “We discovered [that] there are some cellphones which should not be inside [the prison cells]. Our challenges with cell phones, is that cellphones in a correctional environment have become deadly weapons which offenders use to commit crimes outside.”
A specially trained task team of 200 prison wardens and members of the police will assist with operations throughout the festive season.
“We are not giving officials leave during this period. Officials working in security unit they don’t get leave, we [want to] make sure [that] they are always on duty, assisting us with operations like today [Tuesday],” explained Klaas.
Prisoners may participate in indoor activities during the lock-down.
The authorities also expressed concern about assaults on prison wardens. The Department of Correctional Services said while prisons throughout the Western Cape would be in lock-down until mid-January, they had noted that assaults on prison guards generally increased during the first two months of the year. — NNN-SABC