The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has categorically dismissed a video doing the rounds on social media of inmates seemingly assaulting a prison official as fake news, saying that the viral video is nothing more than a macabre act of bad theatre.
The video shows three inmates appearing to violently assault an official, holding him up against a wall as he struggles to break free.
The person behind the videos has been identified and the Department is engaging with the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the law to take its course.
DSC condemn fake video of inmates assaulting official
DSC spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said in a statement on Sunday 11 April that the disturbing scene depicted in the video is “nothing close to reality”, and condemned the attempt to impersonate prison officials by wearing their uniforms.
“These videos contravene Section 124 of the Correctional Services Act, Act 11 of 1998, which states that, any unauthorised person who wears or uses the departmental uniform, distinctive badge or insignia of the Department or of a custody official or anything deceptively resembling them is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or, in default of payment, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to such imprisonment without the option of a fine or both,” he said.
Nxumalo said that Section 125 proceeds to mention that any person masquerading as a correctional or custody official is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or – in default of payment – to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to such imprisonment without the option of a fine or both.
“The Department of Correctional Services never granted any permission for the production of these videos; hence the resolve to embark on legal processes in dealing with those behind them,” he said.
‘Proper channels’ for creative expression must be used
Nxumalo said that should inmates or creatives desire to showcase their talents as thespians or curators of the arts, they should do so in line with “processes that are in place for creative artists to approach the Department of Correctional Services for the utilisation of our uniform or property”.
“These requests are processed internally and can only be approved by the National Commissioner and such work must be in the interests of justice and rehabilitation of inmates,” he said, adding that the videos currently causing a stir constitute “an attack on Correctional Services” and “also undermine the authority of the State”.
“We view this in a very serious light, as it may have serious consequences for our officials and inmates.”