The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in South Africa, under the leadership of Commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale, affirmed its commitment to bolstering prison security in anticipation of potential risks during the festive season.
Thobakgale, speaking in Durban at the launch of the National Festive Season Security Operations Plan, emphasized the proactive measures to prevent contraband smuggling and disorder. He stressed the importance of these measures due to the unique challenges the country faces during the festive period.
“As we approach the holiday season, known for joy and togetherness, we’re also mindful of the increased crime and security issues in correctional facilities,” Thobakgale stated.
The Commissioner highlighted the safety of correctional officers as the department’s top priority, expressing concerns over recent attacks, denouncing such actions as intolerable interference with law enforcement duties.
“Attacks on law enforcement institutions are attacks on the State,” Thobakgale asserted, emphasizing the pivotal role of correctional facilities in the justice system, responsible for rehabilitation and the safe custody of law offenders.
He underscored the necessity to ensure the safety of both officials and inmates, citing concerns about overcrowding, gang activities, contraband smuggling, and violence within correctional centers. Thobakgale emphasized the potential risks during the festive season, calling for heightened vigilance.
The Commissioner highlighted the significance of maintaining security while creating an environment fostering peace and stability for inmates and staff during the festive season, aiming to prevent incidents compromising facility safety.
To achieve these goals, Thobakgale outlined multi-faceted operations, including stringent visitor screening, increased vigilance, and positive engagement programs for inmates. Collaboration with external partners and law enforcement agencies was also emphasized to ensure a comprehensive security approach.
Thobakgale acknowledged the dedication of correctional officials and their pivotal role in upholding safety, urging recognition for their unwavering commitment in challenging work environments.
He reiterated that the mission of correctional facilities extends beyond their physical boundaries, emphasizing the importance of creating a safe society with dignity and respect.
“Tightening security isn’t solely an institutional concern but a collective responsibility impacting society’s safety,” Thobakgale concluded.
The Department of Correctional Services’ proactive stance aims to safeguard both staff and inmates, ensuring a peaceful and secure festive season while addressing the broader societal impact of enhanced security measures.