Four pictures showing the unidentified female prison warder from the Losperfontein Correctional Service Centre near Brits in North West posing in uniform with a male prisoner were shared by Facebook and Twitter users yesterday.
This was brought to the department’s attention which later confirmed in a statement that the prison warder had committed suicide.
The department said it had launched an internal investigation into the matter. The regional commissioner for North West, Mandla Mkhabela, said they had “learnt with shock” that the warder committed suicide as they were investigating the images.
Mkhabela said the behaviour of engaging with inmates in that manner was not allowed. “This is disturbing and strictly prohibited. The department condemns this in the strongest possible terms,” he said.
In one of the images, the two are seen kissing in a picture that seems to have been taken by the male inmate.
The pictures were seemingly taken by cellphone, but it’s unclear where they were taken.
Sowetan has learnt that the warder was found hanging at her place of residence in the staff quarters at the prison.
The SA Depression And Anxiety Group operations director Cassey Chambers said: “With social media anything goes viral so quickly and you find people who have no relation to the matter making comments and sharing it. That puts on added pressure and cyberbullying. as it could be a last straw. Maybe she thinks there would be an impact on family.”