Johannesburg. A South African trade union Thursday defended prison officers for organising an erotic dance show for inmates, denying the performers were strippers as they were "not half naked as alleged".
Pictures emerged of dancers in scanty black lingerie and knee-high boots cavorting with orange-clad prisoners at the high-security Johannesburg Correctional Centre jail.
After the images spread across the internet, 13 prison staff were suspended over the show, which was part of annual Youth Day celebrations last month.
"Social media took an innocent entertainment program of the youth day celebrations at the prison and turned it into something ugly," the Public Servants Association trade union said in a statement.
"The dancers were clothed in appropriate, suitable dancing attire (tights) and not half naked as alleged."
One photo showed two women touching and hugging a bare-chested inmate wearing orange prisoner trousers in front of a large group of applauding inmates.
Prison guards could be seen in some of the photographs.
"The intention was never to have strippers in the facility," acting Correctional Services Commissioner James Smalberger told reporters last month.
"The explicit entertainment was a clear breach of security."
The jail -- commonly known as "Sun City" -- houses some of South Africa's most dangerous criminals, convicted of murder, robbery, rape and other crimes.
"We are professional street dancers and we had gone there on invitation," Busi Mahlangu of the Sexy Lingerie and Boys group told the Sowetan newspaper.
"We are shocked that we are now being called strippers. This has affected us very badly."
The trade union vowed to fight the prison officers' suspension. (AFP)