Cell phones in prison undermine hard work by SAPS and Judicial System | Western Cape Government


Cell phones in prison undermine hard work by SAPS and Judicial System

14 July 2015

Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety

I welcome the confiscation of apparently up to 100 electronic devices, almost half of which are cell phones, at the Pollsmoor Prison over the weekend.

Inmates’ access to communicating at will with the outside world undermines the hard work done by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Judicial System in ridding our communities of the hold criminals have over them.

Police spend valuable time and resources to gather the necessary evidence to ensure that criminals are put behind bars, and situations where these gangsters and drug lords are allowed continued access to the outside world severely undermines the SAPS’s efforts to keep our communities safe.

I have serious concerns as to why inmates were able to communicate from Pollsmoor with the outside world for nearly seven months before any action was taken.

Wardens and staff who assist or allow convicted and incarcerated criminals to establish contact with communities outside prison without due authorisation could also be in contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime (POCA) Act under Chapter 4 (2) as:

2. Any person who

  1. Performs any act which is aimed at causing, bringing about, promoting or contributing towards a pattern of criminal gang activity;
  2. Incites, instigates, commands, aids, advises, encourages or procures any other person to commit, bring about, perform or participate in a pattern of criminal gang activity; or
  3. Intentionally causes, encourages, recruits, incites, instigates, commands, aids or advises another person to join a criminal gang.

Shall be guilty of any offence.

Stronger and continued action is required against any inmate found with any communication device as well as against any correctional services official found to be aiding the smuggling or use of the contraband.

Previous correspondence to National Minister of Correctional Services to ascertain the extent of the problem in the Western Cape and the impact it has on the safety of communities outside of prisons has yielded little response.

Despite media reports confirming that the Department of Correctional Services’ implementation of cell phone detection technology is at an advanced stage at Pollsmoor, I have today requested both the National Minister of Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, as well as the Acting Provincial Police Commissioner, Major General Thembisile Patekile, to update me on the use of communication devices in prisons, the impact it has on crime prevention outside prisons, as well as how involved crime intelligence are in combating the use thereof under the POCA Act.

If we are to have any measurable impact in combatting crime and organised crime related to gangs and drugs in the Western Cape we will all have to play our part.

Media Enquiries: 

Ewald Botha
Spokesperson for Minister Plato
Cell:  079 694 1113