27/06/2017 07:00 SAST | Updated 27/06/2017 07:00 SAST

Prison Dancers: We're Not Strippers, And There Was Nothing Sexual About Our Visit

The dancers who were photographed dancing with prisoners say they are offended that they have been called strippers.

Correctional service officers and prisoners at Johannesburg Correctional Services centre in Johannesburg.
Denzil Maregele/Gallo Images
Correctional service officers and prisoners at Johannesburg Correctional Services centre in Johannesburg.

The "strippers" involved in the prison strip-show at Johannesburg Central Prison say they are professional dancers, not strippers, and that the entire affair has had a negative effect on their reputations.

Busi Mahlangu of Sexy Lingerie and Boys from Mofolo in Soweto told The Sowetan that their show was now being used in a fight between prison management, and claimed there was nothing untoward about it.

The Department of Correctional Services apologised for the incident on Monday, after the images of the scantily clad women dancing suggestively with inmates went viral. Correctional services acting national commissioner James Smalberg said: "Thirteen officials will receive contemplation suspension letters. We have beefed up the investigation, and we shall give the investigation team appropriate time."

"The images were taken during an event related to June 16, but this form of entertainment was not however approved", he said.

Mahlangu told The Sowetan they were not strippers, but freelance dancers who worked for well-known recording artists.

"We are professional street dancers and we had gone there on invitation. We were a group of three girls and three guys and the pictures that are circulating only show me and another female dancer. We were not even aware that someone was taking pictures of us and we are shocked that we are now being called strippers.

"This has affected us very badly because this is our work and we get paid for it. This will affect our reputation because we also get international bookings" she said.

A man who claimed to be Mahlangu's father, who is reportedly serving a life sentence at the prison, was one of the men shown in the images.

"In one of these pictures I was dancing with my daughter and being happy to see her but it came across as if I was perving over her and that she was a stripper," he told The Sowetan.

One of the male members of the group, choreographer Cassius Tlhotlhalemaje said there was nothing sexual about the performance.

"We were about to leave when the prisoners and other officials gave us a guard of honour for our performance. One inmate, whom we know from the past, wanted to take a picture with the girls. There was only an official photographer there. There was nothing sexual about it," he said.