Deputy minister Makwetla concerned by high number of suicides in SA prisons

Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla says since Operation Vala started there have been 16 attempted suicides at some prisons.

Emergency Support Team of Correctional Services, with Deputy Correctional Services Minister Thabang Makwetla conducted a special search at the Johannesburg Maximum Prison on 20 December 2018. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla says that he is concerned about the high number of suicides in the country’s prisons.

“Over the last three weeks, since we started with Operation Vala there were 16 attempted suicides. But of course, we are talking about 16 attempted suicides in a community that has 243 prisons. Sixteen attempted suicides in three weeks, there are so many centres where there were no attempted suicides… but for me is something that we have to try to look into.”

Makwetla was speaking after a surprise raid on Thursday at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Bryanston.

During the raid officials confiscated cash, cellphones dagga and SIM cards among other smuggled goods.

Makwetla says the operation has alerted the department on the attempted suicides.

The raid forms part of Operation Vala, a festive season drive to curb escape attempts and assaults during the festive season.

The campaign is not only about seizing contraband from inmates but a chance for the department to scrutinise officials who are complicit in the smuggling of banned substances.

Since surprise raids started, the department says that over 100 officials have been dismissed.

[WATCH] Operation Vala targets Leeuwkop prison in surprise raid

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)