The marked escalation in the numbers of visitors caught smuggling illegal goods into Polokwane Correctional Centre has become a worrying issue for the centre’s management. This follows the arrest of three visitors at the centre’s control gate over the weekend when they attempted to import dagga into the facility.
It is clear that besides overpopulation the smuggling of illegal goods by visitors to offenders is the biggest challenge currently faced by the centre.
Polokwane Correctional Centre Head, Abraham Müller told Polokwane Observer that three women were arrested on the weekend after they were caught by access control personnel trying to smuggle dagga hidden in grapefruit or achar containers into the facility. “On Saturday we caught two women who entered the premises with grapefruit of which the pulp had been removed and replaced with a bag filled with dagga. Another woman who had entered with dagga allegedly hidden in her private parts and later transferred it to an achar container bought at the tuck shop, was caught on Sunday,” according to Müller.
He added that a visitor who brought in a can of cold drink which was perfectly cut open had dagga and two cell phones hidden inside and was arrested about two weeks ago. “Visitors should know that it is an offence to smuggle illegal goods into prison and one can face up to four years’ imprisonment if found guilty. We are declaring war against perpetrators in this matter as visitors use all kinds of ways to provide for offenders behind bars,” he said.
Dagga, money, knives, ‘muti’ and drugs such as mandrax and nyaope are confiscated on a regular basis. “We recently had an incident where an offender had to be rushed to hospital after inserting a bag of dagga, left for him by a relative or friend in a toilet at one of the court buildings, into his anus. The bag of dagga landed up in his intestines and he had to be treated at hospital,” Müller said.
He added that illegal goods are used to commit crime from within prison. “Cell phones are used to stay in contact with syndicates on the outside or to intimidate and even threaten witnesses and investigating officers. Correctional facilities are a cashless society as money creates problems and quarrels between offenders,” Müller explained.
Correctional Services Polokwane Area Commissioner Kenneth Mthombeni stressed that visitors who smuggle illegal items into prison are not contributing to the rehabilitation process of offenders. “We are trying to fill a bucket with water while visitors keep on poking holes in it. We will not be apologetic towards people when they have to be searched at the gate of entry. We urge visitors to stop this modus operandi as it hinders our progress in rehabilitating offenders,” Mthombeni said.
The centre management thanked correctional centre staff members Muvhal Mavhutha, Mpho Sebakane, Sarah Hlungwani and head of security Silas Mashita for a job well done in detecting the illegal goods and preventig it from reaching the intended recipients.
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