'Warders set me up'

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Dan Sithole, an inmate at Estcourt Prison in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, has accused warders of setting him up with dagga to keep him in prison despite his having been freed by the parole board.

Sithole told Sowetan yesterday that a "senior warder forced me to take dagga and hand it to another inmate" in an attempt to keep him in prison.

Sithole was arrested in 2005 for robbery and after spending two years in jail, was granted parole and was due to have left the facility last Friday.

He made headlines last year when he tried to commit suicide by swallowing four razor blades while incarcerated at Waterval Prison in Newcastle. At the time he said he was "sick and tired of being abused and mistreated by prison warders". He said he was being "victimised" because he had informed prison officials that some warders were having sex with one another in full view of inmates.

He was moved from Waterval to Estcourt as the department was conducting an internal investigation into the claims.

"I was supposed to leave the prison last Friday, but when I went to fetch my clothes on Thursday I was told that I won't be leaving because I had been caught with dagga," he said yesterday.

Sithole said a warder had instructed him to hand over dagga to a fellow inmate on May 14.

"I was working in the garden with him when he (the senior warder) gave me a plastic full of dagga to pass on to another inmate. I knew it was wrong but I couldn't refuse as the instruction came from a higher authority," Sithole said.

He alleges that it was not the first time that this had happened.

Manelisi Wolela, Correctional Services spokesman, was in a meeting yesterday but promised to come back to us. He never did.

SA Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights spokesman Miles Bhudu said Sithole's case was not different from the many others that they dealt with.