By Bobby Stevenson (MPL), Shadow MEC for Safety and Security:
A spokesperson of the Department of Correctional Services, Zama Feni, commented on BayTV yesterday and in Die Burger this morning on the DA’s call for the banning of cellphones in St. Albans prison in Port Elizabeth to curb gansterism in the city.
The community will be relieved to hear the commitment by the Department of Correctional Services to install cellphone detection equipment in St. Albans prison in Port Elizabeth at some future point. This vague commitment is simply not good enough. What we want is immediate action.
If you can jam the signal in parliament to protect the president, you can jam the signal in St. Albans prison to protect the people of Nelson Mandela Bay and the Eastern Cape.
We cannot simply wait for cellphone detection equipment to be installed, there needs to be immediate action. Ban anyone from bringing any cellphone into St. Albans prison as has been done in Mangaung or simply jam the signal.
Police have informed the legislature’s portfolio committee on safety and security that gangsters organise hits and the intimidation of witnesses from St. Albans prison and continue to arrange their gangster- activities from there.
There needs to be a sense of urgency in eradicating cellphone usage in St. Albans prison. We need to break the chain of violence that has plunged the Northern Areas of our city as well as other communities into places of fear.
Blocking the access of criminals and gangsters to cellphones is one link in this chain that must be broken.
My colleague in the national parliament, James Selfe, who is the Shadow Minister of Correctional Services has already raised the issue of restricting cellphones in all prisons in the portfolio committee as well as in the budget debate and will continue to vigorously pursue the matter of St. Albans.
The DA is committed to safer streets for safer communities.
Other steps to prevent gangsterism include the introduction of a metro police service in the city, the re-establishment of the SAPS anti-gang and anti-drug units, a holistic strategy that involves all stakeholders and the rollout of CCTV cameras.