DESPITE high security levels at Westville Correctional Centre in Durban, inmates are still smuggling unauthorised items, including cellphones, into the prison.

It is alleged that prison officials are colluding with inmates to smuggle cellphones and other unauthorised items inside.

Prison authorities have in the past few weeks recovered more than 82 cellphones during random searches at medium C section alone.

Some officials allegedly breached the security system by bypassing certain checkpoints when smuggling the cellphones and airtime, which they sold to theprisoners.

The rehabilitation centre has reportedly been turned into a holiday home for inmates as officials have failed to adhere to the security measures.

Yesterday, regional commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele and acting area commissioner Errol Phillip Korabie conceded that they were faced with a huge challenge at the centre.

Korabie said the items posed a security threat in the centre. "We have certain points where officials are not allowed to pass with their bags. And they are not allowed to use their cellphones during working hours, but offenders are always found with the unauthorised items.

"And it's not clear how these items land with them," he said.

Korabie said they had conducted searches to remove all unauthorised items in the centre.

However, it seems the authorities have no contingency plans in place to avoid the influx of unauthorised items in the centre.

Nxele said items such as cellphones, electric equipment and others that are not allowed in the centre are smuggled in by officials, contractors and visitors.

He said it had been proven that some items were being used by the inmates to plan crimes.

"We have suppliers that are not being permitted at the centre. We have intensified our search and use our scans to detect the items," he said.

Nxele also appealed to the public to work with them to ensure that cellphones and other such items did not find their way into the prison.

"People can't smuggle the items to the offenders while knowing very well that it will affect the rehabilitation processes," said Nxele.

He issued a stern warning to officials who collude with inmates.

"We will take decisive action against those officials found to have played a role in breaching our security systems," said Nxele.