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Crime & Courts

Goodwood and Voorberg prisons in Western Cape are in a ‘dire state’

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Detainees live in a corrugated housing structure at the Voorberg Correctional Centre. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town – A lack of structures, maintenance, and uniforms for prisoners and insufficient staff are some of the issues the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) picked up on during a recent visit to correctional centres in the Western Cape.

The Judicial Inspector for Correctional Services, Judge Johann van der Westhuizen, was in the province to inspect correctional centres. He was at Voorberg Correctional Centre near Piketberg on Thursday, and Goodwood Correctional Centre, Goodwood on Friday. His inspections form part of JICS National Inspection Plan, and contribute to the recommendations and reports given to the Minister of Justice on a quarterly basis as well as to the Portfolio Committee annually.

The head of Goodwood Correctional Centre, Nomalizo Mani, said gangsterism was one of the biggest battles they fought at Goodwood.

In a centre which is 145% overcrowded, with an inmate count of 3053 and approved accommodation for only 2115, most inmates, – 2387 – are remand detainees, with only 663 sentenced inmates.

“Whatever is happening in the community will spill over into the centre,” Mani said.

The two correctional centres also have other factors in common, such as structures which cannot be maintained adequately. Voorberg Medium A needs a total shutdown as it is a corrugated iron structure, where remand detainees live in extreme heat in summer.

“There are not enough shoes for all the inmates (especially smaller sizes), contraband like cellphones – with which crimes are committed – is a major problem, and they do not have enough personnel to adequately do their work, which includes the safe incarceration of inmates. These were some of the observations during the inspection,” Van der Westhuizen said.

Several incidents at Goodwood were mentioned, including two inmates making a weapon and attempting to stab another on the morning of the inspection. In another incident two correctional centre officials arrested a colleague for bringing contraband into the centre.

Glynnis Breytenbach, the DA’s Shadow Ministers for Justice and Correctional Services and a member of the Justice and Correctional portfolio committee, said: “Our prisons are in a dire state, they are extremely under resourced and under staffed. It’s evident the budget must be increased.”

@MarvinCharles17

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Cape Argus

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