Political party calls for signal jammers in prisons

13:25 (GMT+2) Thu, 10 Jan 2019

The Congress of the People has urged the Department of Correctional Services to urgently implement the use of cell phone jammers in South African prisons.

This followed weekend reports that Nigerian televangelist Pastor Timothy Omotoso, who is detained at St Albans prison in Port Elizabeth on charges of rape,  was allowed to preach via video conferencing from his single cell, using his cellphone to address his congregants around the country.

The department has launched an investigation into allegations of preferential treatment for Omotoso.

A recent raid of the Johannesburg Central Prison revealed a number of cellphones inside prison cells among a host of contraband including dangerous weapons and drugs.

COPE national spokesperson Dennis Bloem said the party had been reliably informed that having a cellphone in prison was a lucrative business as inmates could freely communicate with the outside world.

Having access to cellphones allowed criminal syndicates and drug dealers to carry out illegal activities from within prison cells.

"The huge numbers of cellphones that are found in our prisons is just the tip of the iceberg, there's no doubt that cell phones can be found in all prisons," he said.

"We can't understand why it is so difficult for the Department of Correctional Services to install this [jamming] technology."

Bloem said COPE would request an urgent meeting with justice and correctional services minister Michael Masutha over the issue.

 African News Agency (ANA)