Gap in prison wall cause for alarm

SOUTH AFRICA - Cape Town - 29-October 2019 - 23 Year old, Tokai resident, Wesley Soule says the boundary wall of Pollsmoor Prison, separating his home from the Prison farming area, has collapsed. He said he first noticed the collapsed wall around three months ago. Soule said he reported breech to the neighborhood group chat and to the local counselor, but that so far nothing had been done. Furthermore, he tried reporting problem to Pollsmoor authorities, but with no success. The final straw was when three weeks ago, Soule heard prisoners in the lane next to his house. "When I asked them what they were doing, they said they were inspecting the wall, which does not seem like a job for prisoners." he said. "When I saw them the next time, they were walking around, asking for cigarettes and stuff. We don't have a very high wall here. You can jump over it very easily. So it does't seem like a safe environment for prisoners to be walking around in." Soule said. He added that it had been three months since he first reported the incident and that to date, nothing has been done about the collapsed wall. - Photographer - Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

A Tokai man says a Pollsmoor inmate was able to get into his garden because of a hole in the prison wall that’s been there for three months.

Wesley Soule, 23, says he first noticed the hole on Thursday August 15.

The prison grounds are separated from Mr Soule’s home by a narrow alley.

Mr Soule posted a picture to community Facebook groups to seek solutions.

“The wife of one of the superintendents of security at the prison, who also lives here, commented on the post and said that she would let him know to come and inspect it. They came, I saw quite a couple of people come to inspect it but after that it went quiet again.” Mr Soule said.

For three-and-a-half months he had been sent from pillar to post at Pollsmoor, trying to find the right person to contact about the issue, he said, but most times the phone would go unanswered.

Mr Soule said prisoners – sometimes supervised by a warder but other times not – would walk through the hole in the prison wall and come up to his home’s boundary wall, from where they would ask for cigarettes. Then, a prisoner had jumped over his boundary wall at about 10.30am on Friday November 1.

Mr Soule was not at home at the time, but his father was and he saw the prisoner inspect the garden.

“The prisoner jumped over and investigated around the garden, I’m guessing trying to find something he could take,” Mr Soule said. “When my father noticed him, he yelled at him from the bathroom window, and he fled, stepping onto a heap of compost and jumping over our wall, running back into the prison.”

The prisoner did not take anything from the property.

When he had reported the incident to the correctional officers on Friday they had seemed unaware of the hole in the wall, he said.

“They all looked like they had not been alerted to the issue, and they did not look like they would fix the issue too urgently.”

Pollsmoor spokesperson, Lewies Davids, said the Department of Correctional Services apologised for the delay in fixing the wall. A team had assessed the damage after the initial complaint, he said, but had not fixed the wall immediately because “logistical procedures” had to be followed to source the necessary materials.

The prison had now prioritised repairs to the wall – rubble had been cleared, holes dug and posts sunk, he said. New wall slabs would be laid within a week.

Prisoners working in the farm fields in the area near the wall had been “properly screened” to work outside, he said.

“Offenders working in the field are also guarded. Our security teams patrol that area regularly and all the movements are
properly recorded.” said Mr Davids.