Pollsmoor prison warder goes to jail for drug smuggling

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A Pollsmoor prison guard has been sent to jail for smuggling drugs and phones to inmates, angering state prosecutors who said this undermined their hard work.

Prison warder Thabo Gxowa, 33, was sentenced to five years imprisonment last week for drug dealing after police officers arrested him in October 2012.

Police officers arrested Gxowa at the prison with six dagga parcels, 17 balls of dagga weighing 3,839kg, a cell phone charger, two cell phones, five SIM cards and two small plastic bags of Tik.

Gxowa worked at the prison’s admission centre and investigators said they received information about his drug operation.

The trial was heard at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court where advocate Renee Prinsloo-Uys, acting on behalf of the state, led evidence against the accused.

Prinsloo-Uys said investigations started when “police received information that a vehicle was transporting drugs to the prison”.

The court heard that police officer Mathebus Jantjies, called in as a state witness, waited outside Pollsmoor for three hours for Gxowa to exit the prison in his black Toyota Run X.

Jantjies and a colleague followed Gxowa, who was in full uniform, to the Steenberg Village shopping mall.

Gxowa went inside the mall and came out after two minutes. By then, a total six police officers were on the scene and followed Gxowa back to Pollsmoor.

Magistrate Welile Rixana recalled the incident while handing down her judgement last Friday at the court.

“The accused drove out of the mall towards Pollsmoor and they (police officers) were behind him. He noticed them. Upon entering Pollsmoor he sped… they put on the blue lights and went after him. He drove recklessly,” said Rixana.

“Crime intelligence assisted in giving chase and cornered him. He tried to use his vehicle to run them over.”

Gxowa eventually drove across the prison’s sportsfield “where he tried to throw something over the wall… a big bag with parcels of dagga”.

Police officers found in his car his warder’s winter jacket and “its pockets were cut and once opened (they) found compressed dagga balls, Tik, two cell phones and a charger”.

Inside the bag he tried to discard “was a roll of compressed dagga wrapped in brown sellotape and square parcels of dagga wrapped in brown paper”. Gxowa also had R800 in cash in his possession.

Rixana recalled that Gxowa told the court “he was not sure who brought the drugs into his car or whether it was a set-up”.

He had said: “The community had a bad tendency of thinking prison warders are bad people”.

Rixana’s judgement concluded: “His evidence is rigged with inherent improbabilities that it can never be said to be reasonably possibly true, to the extent that the court rejects it as false… The accused is accordingly convicted of dealing in drugs.”

Prinsloo-Uys told the court corrupt prison warders “make a mockery of what we do here”.

“He was in a position of trust. We send people to jail to rehabilitate and he makes a mockery of everything we do,” she said.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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