Minister of Justice and Correctional Services of the Republic of South Africa, Ronald Lamola has ordered an immediate investigation into Durban’s Westville Correction Facility after videos taken on mobile phones appeared on social media showing inmates indulging in drugs and in possession of weapons.
The two videos were leaked on Monday 24th June, following news which broke at the weekend. In one video, an inmate openly snorts a white powder, (believed to be cocaine), listening to music and dancing. The 2nd video appears to show correctional officials handing weapons to inmates and watching them fight.
The inmate openly snorting the white powder has been confirmed as Ruwain Meer – a double-murder convict, currently serving two life sentences.
Ronald Lamola, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services said, “We are not a lawless state, moreover institutions which are meant to rehabilitate inmates cannot be a hive of lawlessness. Should the investigation find that a violation of any policy or law has taken place, there will be serious ramifications for the individuals concerned. Our society demands the highest level of discipline and accountability from the criminal justice system as a whole.”
James Selfe from the Democratic Alliance is reported to have said, “This is a systemic problem of all prisons in South Africa and we need to deal with it systemically and that means there needs to be rigorous security checks at all entrances and exits to prisons, and those need to include the prison officials themselves,”
KwaZulu Natal Correctional Services Spokesperson, Thulani Mdluli, said: “The matter was already in our hands and it is under a critical investigation at the moment. All those who may be found to be implicated in that video will definitely face the hand of the law, because what is being portrayed in that video is related to criminal activity.”
A number of inmates have since been moved to a maximum secure facility.