Correctional Services: Minister's Budget Speech
05 Jun 2008
BUDGET VOTE SPEECH OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES MINISTER NGCONDE BALFOUR IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Honourable members of Parliament
Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Ms. Loretta Jacobus
The Acting Inspecting Judge, Judge Deon Van Zyl
National Commissioner of Correctional Services Mr. Vernie Petersen and your Executive Management Team
Honoured and special guests including our Ambassadors of Excellence
Our valued Stakeholders and partners
Guests, officials of Correctional Services and offenders watching the speech on big screens eKomani in the Eastern Cape, Kroonstad in Free State, all Correctional Centres and Management Areas and everywhere you may be watching this on television
Ladies and Gentlemen
In just ten days time, it will be four years since I stood for the first time in the National Assembly as Minister of Correctional Services and made very clear commitment to “make a difference” in the lives of both offenders, members of DCS and victims of crime. Today I stand here, for the fourth time as Minister of Correctional Services in the third term of our democratic government, with a sense of accomplishment in many respects, while also acknowledging that some challenges remained very elusive.
We have outlined our ideals and targets, some of which seemed unrealistic. I am proud to announce that we achieved many because of the dynamism of departmental officials.
They are our greatest asset and have been exceptional in turning the tide on the prison system of yester years into what we can now celebrate as triumph against all odds.
Madam Speaker: It is in that light that I dedicate this speech to honour past and present officials who made substantial contributions and survived traumatic experiences inherent in running a correctional system. Today marks a celebration of the fruits of the labour of these officials some of whom I have asked to join as special guests of this august gathering.
I am delighted to acknowledge the presence of:
- Mr. Theart of Zonderwater Correctional Centre, a survivor of a tragic attempted escape in 2005, whose physical condition is an epitome of the challenges and threats our officials face on a daily basis. His positive spirit helped him survive severe injuries during an attempted escape at Zonderwater.
- Also on the gallery are our Ambassadors of Excellence – winners of the inaugural national Corrections Excellence Awards held in March 2008.
Also joining us are our key stakeholders whose presence affirms that the undertaking we made of building a social compact has begun to yield positive results.
These include Nicro, Phaphama, Institute for Healing of Memories, Khulisa, Open Society Foundation (OSF) and the President’s Awards. These partners have responded positively to government’s call for “all hands on deck” to enhance safe custody, rehabilitation and social re-integration of offenders for a safer
The nation is continuing to invest significant public resources on corrections with trust and confidence that we will make corresponding and even better contributions towards building a safer and a more secure
Without any fear of contradiction, I can vouch that for the allocated tens of billions of rands for our officials and partners we have given back great value for money. This speech therefore gives account of not just what has been achieved over the last financial year, but an over view of the third term of government in particular and the last 14 years of democratic governance.
I believe we have and continue to cater for the most fundamental needs of the South African population, the majority of whom currently clamour for harsher and more punitive measures against criminals in the face of increasing violent crime. There are some worrying trends which include increased numbers of children in our facilities incarcerated for serious and violent crimes.
Correctional Services is focused on correcting the offending behaviour and ensuring the rehabilitation of offenders. We remain alert to the dynamics and complexities of fighting crime and our strategies thus are aimed at responding to these challenges as outlined in the highlights I will give.
Building the Department’s capacity for effective and efficient services delivery
The enthusiasm of staff members to make suggestions to their Minister on issues regarded as critical, is greatly appreciated. One member said “we feel the Department is more concerned with offenders than with the members”. While another staff member complains about a small salary and her inability to make ends meet as a single parent supporting two children with a vision of making them lead “a better life”.
These members’ legitimate concerns are noted. I want to assure them that a lot is being done by the National Commissioner to turn their misfortunes around in his efforts to build a formidable team in Correctional Services of a dedicated and professional cadre of selfless officials.
We strongly believe Corrections is a noble profession that officials should be proud of, cherish and pursue for the rest of their working careers.
The National Commissioner is hard at work to ensure that the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) for correctional officials is indeed implemented in phases as from July 2008. We have also inaugurated an interim Corrections Professions Council that is working to address a range of gaps identified by officials themselves.
There are a number of other critical interventions aimed at building and transforming the Department into a well-oiled service delivery machine:
- The Increase of the staff complement by 26% from 32 430 to 40 998 after handling and finalising the recruitment of over 10 000 officials within just three years. We simultaneously improved women representation at the Executive Management level to 37%, at Senior Management Service level to 26% and Middle Management Level to 30% while also increasing women recruitment at entry level to 30%. These improvements have geared the department to implement the 7-Day working week, eliminate unsustainable overtime that was approaching R1 billion rands per year while also meeting basic conditions of employment obligations.
- The Department introduced a death grant of R200 000.00 to alleviate the hardship of family members of officials that passed on in the line of duty. The grant came into effect at the beginning of this financial year.
- The adoption of a strategy for Harnessing Organisational Culture (HOC) for eliminating tendencies that militate against the new ethos in corrections we have adopted through the finalisation of the new White Paper on Corrections. As part of the strategy, we introduced national Corrections Excellence Awards that were a great success. I wish to take the honour of introducing the different categories to this house.
- In the gallery we have gold, silver and bronze medalists in Public Safety, Good Governance, Masibambisane, Batho Pele and three special categories of the Minister, Deputy Minister and National Commissioner. They are an embodiment of the ideal correctional official we envisaged in Chapter Eight of the White Paper. The awards will be a vehicle through which ambassadorial skills will ensure the creation of excellence across DCS. I know there are many other pockets of excellence we will soon discover, nourish and make normative in our day to day practices.
- We have developed and launched an Integrated Human Resources Strategy that incorporates interventions aimed at recruiting and retaining scarce skills. Entry levels for professions like nurses, medical practitioners, pharmacists, psychologists have been increased. Used together with counter offers, the strategy has begun to make the impact required among nurses and social workers.
- Other improvements being made include the registration of 189 SMS members with Wits Business Schools for a leadership development programme which ends this year. The programme was launched and 189 senior managers will be trained during the course of this period.
- The benefits of deploying over 90% of SMS members at the coalface of service delivery as part of Khaedu is acknowledged as eye opening and assisted in thinking through and planning the 2 X 12 hour shift required for implementing the 7-day working-week being piloted in Johannesburg Management Area since April 2008.
- Effective Case Management and Unit Management systems are what I would call, operating systems of any well functioning correctional system. This appreciation has not been at the expected levels for sometime.
These weaknesses became abundantly clear as we sought to effectively implement projects like the Offender Rehabilitation Path (ORP) and Social Re-integration. To close this gap, we have prioritised the training of managers and officials in 36 centres of excellence and 54 other priority centres across the country on these two systems.
Along side this intervention, we have developed tools for objective assessment of individual centre performance, in order to identify those in need of further interventions and to identify best practices that can be shared.
Madam Deputy Speaker, these improvements are also made in managing the budget voted to implement our programmes. The Department’s spending has improved from 94.1 per cent of the allocated R9.8 billion in the 2006/7 financial year to 97,7 per cent of the allocated R11,4 billion in the 2007/08 financial year. This is mainly due to the improvement on billing from the Department of Public Works for property management services and capital works projects as well as the expenditure incurred in line with the requirements for the implementation of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Chamber Resolution number 1 of 2007.
Improving efficiency of the Remand Detention System
One of the major challenges facing the criminal justice system in
The system is facing challenges of case backlogs, limited integrated planning, poor coordination and absence of integrated remand detention information system resulting in duplication of services and poor handling of remand detainees.
Considering the costs of keeping each offender, transporting them to and from courts, limited access to basic services and the social impact of those incarcerated for petty crimes, the Cabinet had ordered that the system be overhauled with Correctional Services playing a coordinating role. The pace has been slow but progress has been made which includes:
- Approval of the policy for remand detention and development of procedures for effective management of detainees;
- Increased use of provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act for reduced bail, release on warning, placement under correctional supervision of children and petty offenders and the plea bargain system all of which benefited 1896 remand detainees in 2008 alone; and
- Ten correctional facilities have been identified to be dedicated Remand Detention Facilities for piloting the new approach.
Other interventions being explored by the Inter-Departmental Task Team on the Remand Detention System include electronic monitoring, aligning information management systems, expanding video postponement and taking inmate tracking and verification system to a higher level.
The implications of daily ferrying 42 000 Remand Detainees to and from courts is a massive operation with high security risks and implications to almost every other services we render.
The key challenge though relates to marketing of alternatives to incarceration. We continue to witness thousands of petty offenders being sent to jail for government to spend disproportionate costs to the crimes committed, coordination remains poor, while officials of the criminal justice system continue to grapple issues of restoration, retribution and upholding of human rights,
Safety and securing remains a priority
An overwhelming number of dedicated and committed Correctional Officials have ensured that we remained true to our commitment to improve safety of the public, offenders, officials and service providers within our facilities. We have once again reduced escapes by 14%, from 95 in 2006 to 82 escapes in 2007, sustaining a 93% reduction in escapes registered over the last 14 years. Let me assure you Madam Speaker and honourable members of this house that these milestones are by design and will be sustained. As with other successes our officials are central, with good progress made in implementing our security standards policy covering all key pillars of the strategy. Even incidents of assault have declined by 53% from 1822 to 855 within one year - a great achievement we must celebrate.
Despite major improvements, we continue to make in safety and security of the public, officials, offenders and service delivery agents within our facilities, the current levels of security breaches and threats to life and limb of these beneficiaries remain unacceptable.
We have witnessed an increase in the numbers of long term violent, aggressive and dangerous offenders, growing substantially over the last 14 years. To deal with this we have established a project team with a dedicate project manager to ensure a systematic and sustained focus covering short-term, medium and long term interventions which include
- Rolling out further use of security technology to cover all our facilities.
- Finalising the establishment and optimum use of our new Field Vetting Unit (FVU) with the help of the National Intelligence Services (NIA) which has already trained officials to ensure that those working in high risk areas are constantly vetted to ensure higher levels of integrity.
- In partnership with SASSETA, SAPS and the Mangaung Maximum Correctional Centre, we are working on training and retraining our security officials.
Informed by our experience in the Qalakabusha and Lacote’s escape incidents and the way we responded, we have taken the following actions:
- accelerating disciplinary processes of officials involved while also dealing with managers responsible,
- Revising our security procedures to tighten internal controls in the wake of increased sophistication and organised crime.
We have successfully piloted an Audio-Visual Remand system in Durban Westville Correctional Centre. This audio-visual link between our facility and the following courts Pinetown,
Accelerating infrastructure development
It is common knowledge that government’s determined strategy to fight crime in particular contact crimes of aggression and violence, resulted in a rapid growth of offender population especially between 1995 and to date. These figures sky-rocketed by over 90% in just ten years from 95 000 in 1995 to 187 000 in 2005.
Our pace of delivering highly needed additional bed spaces left so much to be desired. We only netted 21% bed spaces from 95 000 to 114737 bed spaces in the same period, lagging far behind the growth of offender population that stands at 165 987 offenders.
It is clear, therefore, that if we are to make a dent in reducing overcrowding, building facilities alone will not be a solution but coupled with other initiatives, we can make a difference.
From 1995 to date we have built seven new correctional centres that include Goodwood, Malmesbury, Emthonjeni, Qalakabusha, Ebongweni and Kokstad Medium; all aligned to the new concept of rehabilitation. The two Public Private Partnership correctional centres in Mangaung and Kuthama- Senthumule are part of a broader plan that included renovation of 57 facilities, and upgrading of 12 facilities nationally.
Time for delays is over. We are firmly on course and have given the Department’s capital expenditure programme the requisite boost to fire with all cylinders. Current major capital works are expected to deliver over 21 000 bed spaces within the current medium term expenditure framework. A programme of renovating and upgrading 12 old Correctional Centres is expected to deliver over 2100 bed spaces. The construction of the Kimberley Correctional Centre currently will accommodate 3000 offenders.
An additional 15 000 bed spaces will be delivered through the construction of five new generation correctional centres by Public Private Partnership (PPP) deals. The process of seeking best private sector partners to drive the PPP project is underway with announcements to be made at appropriate times. The five centres will be built in East
The infrastructure programme is helping in making positive waves in local economies and in pushing back frontiers of poverty and underdevelopment. The construction of the R815 million Kimberley Correctional Centre is a living example to this where the following milestones were registered:
- 94% of 1235 jobs including 91 women and 137 ex- offenders created, went to the local communities ,
- R4.7 million spent to train 86 youths as part of the National Youth Service programme.
- 412 officials, 40% of whom are women, have been appointed to manage the facility and are currently in Correctional Services training colleges in Kroonstad and Zonderwater.
Building enduring partnerships
In his State of the Nation Address President Thabo Mbeki called for growing cooperation of all partners in fighting crime driven by rule of law, respect of the judiciary and pursuit of human rights.
One of the outstanding achievements of the previous financial year is a national Stakeholders’ Conference that sealed a need for building a South African Corrections Association of all key players in the corrections community. The meeting attended by over 50 delegates endorsed a pledge to work closer together to find “more innovative and collaborative ways of addressing” challenges facing the corrections community in
We have taken note of comments of our stakeholders, with one calling for self sufficiency of Correctional Services as a mechanism to ensure that “inmates … earn their upkeep instead of being a financial burden on our communities.”
I must mention that this perspective is valid although it may fall short of comprehending the complexity of managing a correctional system with more and more offenders being incarcerated for serious contact crimes like murder, rape, violence and aggression.
It is again, Madam Speaker, my honour to give a brief overview of the contributions made by these partners of the corrections community in
- NICRO’s vision of a safe, healthy and crime free
spurred them to reach over 50 000 offenders, their families and communities to support diversion, restorative justice and alternative sentences over the past four years. South Africa
- Phaphama Initiative with its promotion of Alternative to Violence Project has reached over 3500 offenders and ex-offenders.
- Thousands of inmates have benefited from the President’s Awards.
- The Department of Correctional Services, in partnership with the Open Society Foundation of South Africa (OSF-SA), is undertaking a three-year research project to develop a tool to monitor the implementation of the Correctional Services Act.
- The partnership between the department and various partners in the
resulted in 55 offenders building a R4.2 million complex for the victims of abuse in Athlone and a house for a needy family in Khayelitsha. Western Cape
- We also cherish the contributions made by various other players including Khulisa,
, Pillar to Post, Provincial and Local government structures, as well as the SABC in particular and the media in general. Instituteof Healing Memories
Finishing strong and laying a base for accelerated service delivery
Government has called for business unusual in accelerating service delivery in the remaining period of the third democratic government. We may have made a difference in many respects but turning around and running efficiently and effectively a correctional system has its inherent challenges. The ideals spelt out in the White Paper will take over a decade to realise in a very supportive context. To ensure business unusual Correctional Services has identified five key strategic projects, two White Paper projects and three Service Delivery Improvement Plans to position its self as a key player in ensuring that government’s apex priorities are centralised.
As reflected in the Estimates of National Expenditure, we will double our efforts and investments to intensify:
- Infrastructure development,
- Re-engineering of the country’s remand detention system,
- Phasing in of the Offender Rehabilitation Path,
- Enhancing sustainable social re-integration of offenders,
- Introduction of the 7-Day working week in an integrated manner with the new Occupation Specific Dispensation for correctional officials,
- Rollout of Centres of Excellence with supportive centres of expertise, and
- Enhancing of security interventions.
We have also identified three key areas of focus for service delivery improvement on which we make a pledge to turn things around within the next 12 months. These include:
- Improving processes of filling vacancies with quicker turn around times and effective communication of the developments.
- Enhancing Adult Basic Education (ABET) as a key pro-poor intervention for thousands of offenders who have no functional skills to reduce survival crimes.
- Improving the management of visitations to improve humane treatment of not just offenders, but also visiting family members so as to enhance familial ties.
Madam Deputy Speaker, this is our account of the difference we have made since making this undertaking. We have indeed given back to the society the value of its investment. We strongly believe these will be sustained because the capacity of the Department has grown multi-fold from various dimensions. Details about other delegated areas will be covered by the Deputy Minister of Correctional Services in her speech today. Read and heard together these inputs should give everyone a clearer picture of how far we have moved, where we are and how we intend to accelerate our pace of delivery, in order to lay a solid foundation for the next democratic government.
I thank you.
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