A Facebook page allegedly publishing photos from within Pollsmoor prison is causing a stir, with the Western Cape Department of Community Safety now demanding an investigation into its authenticity. The page, which was reportedly started in January and has since garnered over 3000 likes, has raised question marks as to whether prisoners are being afforded access to mobile devices, and whether this has provided a direct link for inmates with the outside world.
Department spokesperson, Ewald Botha has said that upon notification of the account’s existence, an immediate request was submitted to the national minister of Correction Services, Michael Masutha calling for feedback on the matter.
Most concerning is the possibility that prisoners who are meant to be totally incarcerated, may seemingly have contact with the outside world. The photos uploaded to the page depict the prisoners’ point of view from with cells and on the yard, fuelling concerns that it may be run by the inmates themselves. Botha said there was a need to ensure that those behind bars had no hold over communities or individuals once removed from society.
“This raises serious concerns that prisoners are not only able to take photos within the prison, but might even have access to the internet, and therefore by extension the outside world which they are meant to be removed from,” explained Botha.
There have been reports that cellphone detectors may be used as a measure to clamp down on the number of devices finding their way into the hands of convicts. However the move has been described as reactionary on the part of the Department of Correctional Services, with some suggesting such measures need already be in place.
Botha highlighted that the regional departments in other provinces have held various raids to clamp down on contraband entering prisons.
“They have acted strongly against prison officials found to have been accomplices in getting these contrabands into prisons. We have asked in the past to bring those kinds of raids to the Western Cape,” he noted, adding that such clampdowns were needed on a frequent basis.
Officials found guilty in this regard face serious disciplinary action, and depending on the severity of the case, potential criminal charges. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)