prisoner sex show claims

Lawyers have expressed concern over a 16-year-old female prisoner in the North End Prison, in Port Elizabeth, who performs strip shows for male inmates in return for drugs.

According to lawyers, drugs and sexual activity in North End Prison are widespread, because many juvenile offenders are detained in the same prison as hardened criminals.

The concerned lawyers say children in jails were becoming hardened criminals because of the lack of rehabilitation facilities for kids with substance addiction problems.

A local advocate, who works with juvenile offenders, said what goes on behind the closed doors of North End Prison, also known as Rooi Hell, was "appalling and astonishing".

Legal Aid Board representative Dave McGlew agreed that children should be sent to prison as the last resort.

The advocate said that one of her most eye-opening experiences was of a 16-year-old prostitute, who used to operate around North End Lake, who went "crazy" in her holding cell in the children's section of the prison.

The girl, who cannot be named as she is a minor, broke all her cell windows as a result of drug withdrawal syndrome.

"She was kept in the children section but went out of control in the cells," said the advocate.

The girl was also known within the prison for giving strip shows, for which she was compensated in drugs, normally dagga. According to reports, the youngster holds a mirror up against the window so that prisoners from the outside can look in.

"On one occasion she played with a tooth brush and spray can around her private parts, as part of a show for inmates," the advocate said. "The men then pay in drugs."

Drugs apparently enter the jail through dealers who throw the narcotics over the prison walls within reach of the inmates cells.

"The guys then rake it in closer to the cell windows where they then hide it in the cells."

Once the drugs are in the confines of the prison they are sold among inmates.

"They just seem to get these drugs into the prison all the time," said the concerned advocate.

McGlew said that just by looking at the children's hands in the jails it is possible to tell that they are all heavily reliant on drugs.

"I have been told that many of these children show the classic symptoms of long time drug users," he said.

He said the absence of rehabilitation centres for juvenile offenders was of concern to all within the justice system.

"Magistrates are at their wits' end and do their best to provide the best treatment available, but they are hamstrung," McGlew said.

He said a major concern for lawyers and court officials was that the only sentencing option for young offenders was either jail time or to release them back into parental care.

"Parents don't want them back but they get them back because there is nowhere else to send them," said McGlew.

"The result is that these children end up on the streets in the community."

Hendrick Jacobs, the manager of North End Prison, refused to comment.

Port Elizabeth correctional services area commissioner, Dineo Mokgoetsi, said the allegations were being investigated. - Herald