George “Geweld” Thomas and co-accused’s sentencing welcomed

By Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety:

I welcome the sentencing of George “Geweld” Thomas and his co-accused today in the Cape Town High Court as a victory for the communities plagued by gangs and drugs in the province.

This landmark case is also a victory for everyone who played their part in the criminal justice value chain to ensure that justice prevailed.

Though there is reason to celebrate, the work is not done and the Department of Correctional Services need to ensure that George Thomas and his co-accused are not extended the opportunity to continue their reign of terror over the communities they have been removed from.

The George “Geweld” Thomas trial unearthed that his time spent in jail during awaiting trial saw more than 33 000 phone calls made from cell phone numbers associated with him, from within the various prisons in which he was incarcerated. It is simply unacceptable that a man removed from our society still has access to control criminal elements in what should be a safer society without his presence.

With one prisoner being able to make up to 46 phone calls a day, as was proven in the “Geweld” case, the National Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, needs to roll out prison busts and affect a clampdown on the implementation of security measures in Western Cape prisons as well.

I have today written to Minister Masutha, requesting him to not only roll out the large scale prison busts in our Province but also for him to investigate the possibility of using technological advances to help prevent the use of unauthorised devices, for instance the use of signal jammers to prevent cell phone calls within the prison boundary.

Our communities need to feel safe and assured that when criminals are put in jail, they have no hold over the community anymore. Eliminating contact to the outside through prohibited devices and ensuring that those watching over criminals are not becoming criminals themselves, are certainly steps in the right direction.

The recent raids in KwaZulu-Natal show the Department’s willingness to act against unauthorised activity inside our prisons, and must be supported as the findings, together with the “Geweld” case, prove that there are serious problems in prisons across the country that require immediate and urgent attention.