The Department of Correctional Services has unmasked two warders at Westville Prison, who colluded with a prisoner in making the snorting cocaine video which went viral.
Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, said because warders are prohibited from carrying cellphones while on duty, investigators found the footage in the cellphones of prisoners.
Ruwain Meer, the prisoner who was captured snorting cocaine was subsequently transferred to C Max Prison in Kokstad to serve the remainder of his double life sentence. He was convicted of two killings in West Riding Row, adjacent to the Westwood Shopping Mall in Sherwood by Judge Mohini Moodley in the Durban High Court. Lamola said nine officials were identified by the department’s investigation team of being linked to the smuggling of drugs into Westville Prison.
“Out of the nine officials, four are currently suspended, three were removed, one is yet to return to work and the other official could not be suspended based on the response that he provided to the investigating team,” The tough- talking minister said those involved in the video, the smuggling of drugs, weapons and other illegal items, would be shown no mercy.
Turning to the action meted out to corrupt officials last year, the minister said 31 officials at correctional centres across the country were disciplined. Lamola said of those investigated, 17 were dismissed, five were dismissed without pay, five received final written warnings and four received written warnings. He said five officials had resigned before their hearings could be finalised,
Lamola said there were 162,875 prisoners in South African prisons, despite there being only 118,572 beds. “This is a disturbing picture, even more pressing is that our overcrowding challenges could become a norm in some of our centres if not managed properly,” he said. Lamola said the awaiting trials of prisoners, which in many cases dragged on for years before the the trials were concluded, had compounded the serious overcrowding issue.