Makwetla ‘concerned’ by contraband found in Leeuwkop Prison

Marijuana, cellphones and electronic appliances were some of the contraband confiscated at Leeuwkop Prison during a surprise raid.

Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Johannesburg was raided by Correctional Services on 27 December 2018. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Correctional Services Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla says he’s concerned about the high amount of contraband found in prisons during Operation Vala.

Makwetla says he’s calling on family members and the outside world to refrain from bringing illicit goods to correctional centres when visiting intimates.

He was part of a surprise visit to Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Marijuana, cellphones and electronic appliances were some of the contraband confiscated at the Leeuwkop prison during a surprise raid.

Makwetla says there is a reason why they do raids: “Issues about contraband that comes into our correctional centres, we’re going to make sure that management discusses, very objectively, the challenges faced by our teams. We can always find reasons to blame, criticise those who do wrong or make mistakes, but leadership is about obviating such problems.”

Makwetla says officials implicated in the smuggling of contraband will be disciplined: “We do not turn a turn blind eye on incidents that we are aware of.”

Makwetla says they’re working to ensure all loopholes are closed.

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The Department of Correctional Services says it's investigating whether the cellphones found at Leeuwkop prison on Thursday were used to commit crimes.

Cellphones are inmates most popular contraband to smuggle in prison.

Makwetla says they're investigating if the phones are being used to communicate with the outside world to carry out criminal acts.

“There is a lot of crime committed outside, which is orchestrated from inside [prison].”

Operation Vala is aimed at tightening security at all correctional facilities in the country.

The department has warned that those assisting inmates to smuggle goods could also face jail time if found.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)