Correctional Services Media Briefing on Budget Vote

Briefing

29 Jun 2009

Present:
Minister of Correctional Services, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize
National Commissioner of Correctional Services, Ms Xoliswa Sibeko
Chief Deputy Commissioner of Correctional Services, Mr Teboho Motseki


The Minister of Correctional Services provided a summary of her budget vote speech to the media. In her presentation, she stated that overcrowding was one of the biggest challenges for the Department with a 75% increase in the prison population since 1994. The Department was working on a Bail Protocol to allow persons who had been granted bail of less than R8000 to be remanded out of custody through the Criminal Justice System (CJS) review process to reduce overcrowding. The Department also admitted that it faced challenges in implementing the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) regime. From 1 July, 2009, the Department would be implementing the seven day establishment. The Department had run as a five year establishment for a long period of time with personnel working from Monday to Friday and receiving overtime if they worked on weekends. The Deputy Minister of Correctional Services stated that it was unacceptable that South Africa was deprived of peace and security by the recurrence of crime. The Department not only intended to deploy resources into building more prisons but also to decisively reduce the frequency of people who were falling back into criminal behaviour. There was a need for community correctional forums whereby society and the private sector could look at ways of absorbing people who had acquired skills through the Department's correctional facilities to enable their re-integration into society. The current practice was that former inmates carried a stigma when they re-entered society causing them to fall back into a familiar lifestyle of criminality in the absence of opportunities for re-integration into society.

Minutes

Q: A journalist asked whether the Minister would also adopt the decisions that had been made by her predecessor regarding procurement contracts, the feeding scheme for prisoners, and the Shabir Shaik parole matter.

A: The Minister reiterated that there was no evidence compelling a review of the decision concerning Mr Shabir Shaik. She further explained that a Minister did not take decisions on the day-to-day administrative affairs of the Department. The Minister would therefore not be involved with issues relating to procurement and would only act, in the public interest, in cases where officials have contravened the law and misused taxpayers money. It was essential that the doctrine of separation of powers be adhered to even though it was the Minister who was inevitably answerable to the public. As a politician, the Minister made decisions on policy but did not decide who should or should not be awarded a contract.

Q: A journalist asked whether there would be a re-alignment in the Department’s budget, with more funds allocated towards the areas of care and development.

A: The Minister responded that a lot of the budget was dedicated to administration with about 80% being spent on compensation. It was difficult for the Department to achieve its core mandates without ensuring it had the necessary “warm bodies” for the work that needed to be done. It was important therefore to strike a balance between the need for security at correctional centres and adequate resources for programmes of care and development. The Minister was concerned about the health care facilities at the correctional centres. The numbers of people who were incarcerated and who had full blown AIDS and chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes was quite high. It was essential therefore to ensure that the Department had done everything in its power to acquire the resources to deal with these challenges. Spending was low as Parliament had pointed out, but the Department already had a deficit of about R500 million in its budget and this would delay their allocation from Treasury to about 2010.

Q: A journalist asked to what extent the review on privately run prisons would affect the tenders that had already been awarded. Would the contracts be shortened?

A: The Minister responded that the fact that tenders had been awarded did not prevent the Department from undertaking a policy review. Her concern was that even if the private sector built facilities and maintained them, it was still Government's responsibility to take ownership over the operations and programmes at those facilities to remain accountable to the nation. Government had an obligation and could therefore not take a “hands off” approach on this matter. There was a need to compare with international practices to see where privatization had been implemented and see whether the best results had been obtained.

Q: A journalist asked the Minister to specify how many of the 67 000 detainees awaiting trial were unable to raise bail money of R8 000 or less and when they would be released.

A: The National Commissioner responded that this information was not available at present.

Q: A journalist asked the Minister whether the Department had the support of the labour unions, in particular the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU), regarding plans for a seven day establishment, as opposed to the existing five day establishment, in order to cut down on the cost of compensating personnel for overtime.

A: The Minister indicated that the two parties (the Department and POPCRU) were engaged in ongoing discussions on this matter. POPCRU had begun to appreciate that it was not sustainable to continue with a five day establishment because paying people for overtime consumed a lot of resources. It was important for the Department to look at the salary scales and to see if they were compatible with the nature of the work that they were doing. It was also important to compare the Department’s salary scales with those of the police and the army since they were all in the security cluster. One could not attempt to deal with the issues of salary adjustments through other processes. The seven day establishment had to be implemented precisely because it committed the Department to doing something about the OSD related payments.

Q: A journalist asked whether the DCS was considering reversing its policy on the privatisation of feeding schemes for inmates.

A: The National Commissioner responded that the Department was in the process of conducting a feasibility study on nutrition contracts, the results of which would inform the decision on whether to privatise or not.


The media briefing was adjourned.

SPEECH BY CORRECTIONAL SERVICES MINISTER, THE HONOURABLE NOSIVIWE MAPISA-NQAKULA, DURING THE DEAPRTMENT’S BUDGET VOTE 18, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (CAPE TOWN), 30 JUNE 2009
(EMBARGO: 16h00)

Speaker,
Honorable Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honorable members,
Chairperson of the National Council for Correctional Services, Judge Desai
Inspecting Judge, Judge Van Zyl
National Commissioner of Correctional Services
Our distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

I am grateful for this opportunity to present the Correctional Services Budget to this House and, in doing so, I must thank my predecessor, Mr. Ngconde Balfour, for the work he has done together with his Deputy, Ms. Loretta Jacobus.
This speech is our map going forward, on the basis of the marching orders we got from our President who said in the State of the Nation Address and the Presidency Budget Vote, among other things:
“We (must) work with the people and our public servants in particular, to build a developmental state, improve public services and strengthen democratic institutions. We have to work harder and smarter to achieve all these objectives and we believe that the leadership of government is equal to the task.”
 It is quite clear to us that the President wants us to create partnerships with our people, across the board, and give leadership to our public servants and, together, design smarter ways in which to work to create conditions that will allow us to deliver the kind of service that will raise the level of our corrections system to compare favourably with the best in the world.

We must, therefore, look exhaustively at governance matters at Corrections and opt for measures that will provide us with a solid administration that will be the building block towards a formidable vehicle which, among other things, will raise the standard of work, enthusiasm, creativity and loyalty, on the part of all officials and which will clean out all the systems and put paid to corruption.
My first impressions in the department are that there seems to be willingness from the majority of the officials to help create a new ethos at Corrections that will satisfy the orders given by the President. I want to assure those who want to contribute in the manner defined by the President that their commitment will be rewarded. Those who want to be a drawback will be dealt with in accordance with our regulations and the relevant law.
There is space for all officials at Corrections to interact with the Minister via e-mail. En route to this Budget Vote presentation, a number of officials communicated with me about a variety of things they wanted me to pay particular attention to. I have read each of those comments with interest and although I may not meet all the expectations raised, I want to assure the concerned officials that I have not spiked any of the submissions. I will find time in the future to interact with the officials.
Allow me to extend a special greeting to those officers and offenders watching this interaction from our various Correctional Centers. Speaker, as with most things in life, the future is sometimes best seen through the lens of the past. This is very important because it enables us to appreciate the strides we have taken as well as understand our shortcomings and better commit to sound plans and programs going into the future. This Parliament sits here with a renewed sense of purpose and strength best expressed by the President in his Inauguration Speech. It is at moments like this that we need to take a step back and ask ourselves: “What is the reason for existence of the Department of Correctional Services?” Allow us, Speaker, to answer that question in the following way:
The Department of Correctional Services is a critical component of the Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster. It is also an integral part of our social services cluster given that it is also about people and is about society. It is about victims; it is about correctional officers; it is about families; it is about communities and offenders. It is critical that as we debate this budget we be reminded of this vast mandate and the impact it has on our security as state as well as the values of our communities.

The DCS is a large institution boasting over Forty Thousand (40 000) employees and over 115 753 sentenced offenders and 49 477 Awaiting Trial Detainees. As you can imagine, it takes a well oiled machinery of systems, processes and people to effectively and efficiently manage service delivery in the Department.  The number of officials will be increased during the current Financial Year by 2 200.  In the process of increasing our human resources we are aware particularly of the challenges we face with regard to equity ion the workplace.
Ayanda Mathwala and Belinda Low-Shang are part of the personnel of the DCS who have urged me and the Deputy Minister to pay particular attention to the matter of gender equity in the department. This is a matter we will not fail you in. We have already raised the issue with senior management. We want to see capable women and disabled persons in all the levels of our department in operations and administration.
While on these matters Speaker, allow me to address some issues of governance in the department and the Auditor-General’s report. The Department has moved from five qualifications in the 2006/2007 report to one qualification for the 2007/2008 Financial Year. This is a welcome achievement by the Department. This single matter that the AG was not satisfied with, relates to asset management. Although we are committed to pursuing a clean Audit Report, I must say that it is likely that the issue of asset management will be a thorn in our side even in the 2008/2009 budget. We will be working closely with the AG’s office to deal with this and other matters of concern that Office has raised as part of our risk management processes.         
One of the many matters we have had to contend with in our service delivery, the matter of the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD), has received widespread attention. I am pleased to confirm that in the early hours of Wednesday, the 24th June, the Employer and the Unions signed Resolution 2/2009 on the OSD. All parties to this process have committed to close interaction based on mutual respect – even when we differ. We will continue to strengthen existing structures to sustain these relations. I must also thank the efforts of our own DCS team who worked diligently with the DPSA and National Treasury to deliver us to this point.
Honourable Members, together with the DPSA and Treasury we have established a team to implement the OSD agreement. The team will report to the Ministers every month on progress. We will also be seeking solutions to the critical matter of attracting scarce skills into the Department and retaining them. These skills are mainly in the health and medical professions which are a core pillar of services expected of the department.
Speaker, we wish to further announce that we will be implementing the 7-day establishment as from tomorrow – 01 July 2009. We have been interfacing with the Minster for Public Service and Administration for the matter to be regulated which will go a long way in curbing over expenditure that saw us beginning this financial year with a R500 million deficit – mainly caused by weekend overtime claims. This forced the department to introduce drastic cost-cutting measures which included placing a moratorium on the filling of certain posts. I call on all officials to join us in this journey and for them to ensure a smooth transition from the five-day to the seven day establishment.
Speaker, we have taken note of concerns expressing a need for budget-realignment to better reflect the commitment to our rehabilitation, care and development as well as social integration programs. Let me paraphrase the White Paper and remind this house Speaker, that our approach to corrections is based on the understanding that the issue is not the duty of the DCS alone. It is a joint responsibility that begins with the family and society’s institutions of religion, education, culture etc. Of course, it is the responsibility of the DCS, as part of the Criminal Justice System, to mend the broken pieces primarily through its Correctional Sentence Plan.

The department’s care and development  programme talks to the following matters:
enhancement and creation of opportunities;
acquisition of knowledge and new skills;
development of an appropriate attitude of serving with excellence;
pursuit of a programme for self sustainability of Correctional Centres;
achievement of principled relations with others, and
the preparation of the offender to return to society with an improved chance of leading a crime free life as a productive and law abiding citizen.
In his book “The Number” (a book on the numbers gangs in South African prisons), Jonny Steinberg relates the words of one of his characters in Pollsmoor as follows:
“You go into prison on a charge of common assault…when you get out, that’s it; your record says you are a criminal. Nobody will ever give you a job. So you become a criminal, because that’s all that is left for you…The system Sir, is a factory for criminals. It makes criminals out of decent people”
This speaks to everything we do not want in our facilities. Yet it is a reality in some cases. Of course, we do not want our facilities to be “factories for criminals”. On the other hand, we cannot allow our centres to become places for vanity and be so comfortable as to encourage repeat offending that has been seeing many offenders returning to prison. This is a very difficult balance to maintain. On the one hand there is Correctional Services while on the other is society. The first balance, therefore, is in the relationship between the two. When offenders are released from the Correctional Centres they must be accommodated by society and be helped to stay away from crime and away from prison.
One of our officers, Mr. D Jackson, had this to say in his e-mail to me:
“I know there are farms that can be used to help fight poverty in this country…with small inputs to utilize our capacity we can help people that are in big need”.


I share the sentiment expressed by this concerned officer. Allow me Speaker to address the matter of offender labour. The Correctional Services Act requires that sufficient work must be provided, as far as practicable, to keep sentenced offenders active for a normal working day and an offender may be compelled to do such work. Unfortunately, many offenders are not kept active for a normal working day due to a number of factors, such as the unavailability of suitable work opportunities as well as personnel and security considerations. The Act also allows the offender to elect the type of work he or she prefers to perform, if such choice is in accordance with an appropriate vocational program. I suspect the interpretation of these legal provisions by some, may well be the reason many elect to remain in their cells, watching television during the day rather than working and contributing to society.
There must be a way, surely, where those who have offended against society could be given the opportunity to contribute towards government’s project to create conditions for a better life for all our people. Offenders should be able to contribute to the economic and infrastructure development agenda on the basis of government’s key priorities over the next five years.

There have been instances in the past where offenders did do some work. For example: we successfully repaired and upgraded the Department of Social Development’s Secure Care facilities in Kroonstad and Qwa-qwa using offender labour. Offenders cleaned a peace garden at Portlands High School here in the Western Cape. In Langa offenders cleaned the school for the disabled. Examples are many. It is for this reason that I have expressed to the National Commissioner the need to research this area and develop a national framework to ensure better utilization of offender labour for the benefit of our communities in the context of rehabilitation, skills development and social reintegration as envisaged in the Correctional Services Act. That research must include consultation across the board to accommodate views from as many stakeholders as possible.

I want at this stage, Speaker, to focus a bit on the matter of medical care for offenders. We all know of the strain that our department of health faces in this regard. The DCS is not immune to these challenges as we struggle to attract medical professionals to our department. The unfortunate reality is that we still have persons with psychiatric difficulties and disabilities in our facilities who share communal cells with the rest of the inmate population. Women and children in our facilities also require a particular degree of medical attention. I raised these matters when I met recently with some member of the South African Medical Association (SAMA). Those discussions were useful and insightful. The meeting with SAMA was influenced by our commitment to maintain certain minimum standards of care that flow from the obligations prescribed by our law on the question. One of the prerequisites to implement our programme of minimum care to the inmates is to design a creative way to attract medical doctors, pharmacists, nurses, psychologists, social workers and other relevant professionals to serve in our facilities. As I stated earlier, we trust that the OSD will go a long way to address this matter.
The application of Section 79 of the Correctional Services Act has been the subject of some controversy for the past year. The heading of this section in the act which reads as follows:  “Correctional Supervision or Parole on Medical Grounds” is in fact misleading as this section is limited to an offender who has been diagnosed as being in the final phases of any terminal disease or condition to die a consolatory and dignified death. I have requested the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board, through its Chairperson, Judge Desai, to review the application of this section and to make proposals to me with regard to medical parole in a much broader sense. This task will include the setting of guidelines for the application of the legislation as it stands in order to ensure a degree of consistency. For instance, it may well be advisable to appoint medical professionals to advise the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board in these matters.
We hope that the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) will assist in setting acceptable standards for determination of the terminal stage for illnesses.  

Our parole system is not a wanton licence to freedom and neither does it nullify the actual sentence imposed by the courts. The parole system aims to extend and grant opportunities for second chances. We hope that as parole is considered, particular attention is paid to the matter of victims of crime, especially victims of violent crimes like murder, robbery and all forms of crimes against women and children. Similarly, offenders who commit further crimes whilst in custody must not expect any sympathy from our parole system. The current proposed Incarceration Framework, whilst setting general minimum detention standards for all offenders, will particularly prescribe a stricter regime for this category including victim involvement in cases of violent crime offenders. This does not mean that victims have a final say but their voice is critical for paroling.


A matter I want to address and contextualize is that of overcrowding in our Correctional Centers. By December of the 2008/2009 Financial Year, 64 870 ATDs had been diverted from our system. 49 072 offenders had also benefited from our parole and conversion processes. In spite of these measures the number of ATDs continues to increase primarily due to the fact that 77% of ATDs do not have bail and cannot benefit from these alternatives. The other contributing factor is that there is an increasing number of offenders serving sentences in excess of 10 years (especially the 10-15 year bracket). This is also worsened by an increase of people serving lifelong sentences in our facilities. The effect of these realities is that we experience a significant burden on our ability to manage overcrowding. We are currently exploring the introduction of electronic monitoring for parole and correctional supervision as a possible solution and will be considering the business case for this later.  

The Judicial Inspecting Judge, in his interaction with me, has passionately raised the matter of overcrowding in the context of a criminal justice system under lots of strain and the impact this has on the Department. The Department will soon be submitting a proposal of an Awaiting Trial Detention Branch in the DCS as per Cabinet directive.
Speaker, I recently signed what is commonly referred to as the Bail Protocol, together with the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Minister of Police. The primary objective of this agreement – as partners in the Criminal Justice System- is to ensure that those inmates who are in our facilities for petty crimes and failure to afford bail are diverted through alternative programs. This is a big step in ensuring that the justice system is not seen as mainly favoring the rich while confining the poor to a life in our Corrections for the mere reason that they could not afford bail. This question speaks directly to the challenges of the Criminal Justice System that the JCPS needs to be ceased to – especially the Department of Justice.

We must not lose sight of basic service delivery principles as prescribed by the Batho Pele ethos of Government. We cannot talk about Batho Pele without dealing with discipline, professionalism and countering corruption. I will be holding the department to account on the issue of discipline in the workplace. It is for this reason that we cannot compromise on the need for a professional cadre of the DCS that truly “serves” the people. There are too many instances where family members visit their loved ones only to turn back at the end of the day without having accomplished this, having been frustrated by the Corrections bureaucracy. I am aware of the frustration many of our people are subjected to at Johannesburg Medium B, for example. Let me congratulate our Krugersdop Center, which has developed such a high sense of ubuntu in dealing with people. The Centre has developed this to a fine art and theirs is branded as a ‘best practice model’ of the DCS. We will ensure that this “best practice” is rolled out to other Centers across the country.
Still on the matter of the service we provide and our facilities; the provision of safe, secure and humane correctional facilities is a fundamental responsibility of the DCS. It is for this reason we must continue to place a high premium on the prevention of escapes, assaults and unnatural deaths by ensuring the best possible security measures for the protection of all officers, inmates, service providers and other stakeholders. In order to ensure this, we have already recruited 504 Control Room officers who are currently undergoing training at our Kroonstad College.  I will be the first to agree, Honourable Members, that it would be big mistake to think that the provision of proper security at our facilities is the “Alpha and Omega” of the corrections function.  Please remember, though, that the reputation of the department was hugely damaged by the escape of Mathe and Farouk, to mention just those two. The inability to secure the Corrections facilities is an indictment against a department that is supposed to keep those who have erred against society in terms of the sentences meted against them by the relevant courts. When this is not done, it amounts to a betrayal of the trust that our people have in our institutions of government. Over the past few years there has been a steady reduction of these escapes and in the last year there were 63 escapes nationally compared to 82 escapes in 2007/2008.  I hope you agree with me that one escape is one escape too many.
Speaker, the department has committed that there will be several new and renovated facilities opened in this Financial Year. In his speech to this House in mid-2008, my predecessor promised to deliver on the Kimberley Correctional Center. Unfortunately this delivery was hampered by certain hurdles. The Department has assured me that the Kimberley Correctional Center will be finalized and opened for utilization before the end of this year. I have been interacting with my counterpart, the Honourable Minister of Public Works, Minister Doidge, to ensure that this indeed happens.
On this note, Honorable Members, you will also recall that there is a process of building additional PPP facilities over and above the two existing ones in Mangaung and Makhado. The procurement processes for these facilities were initiated in 2007. We will finalize these matters as soon as possible. I must state, however, that I will also be looking at the whole philosophy of PPPs for Correctional facilities going into the future. There is a need to engage critically with the trade-offs that come with PPPs and the responsibilities of the state in terms of the spirit of the White Paper.
The task of Corrections is by no means a simple one nor a challenge for the faint hearted. You will recall the axiom that the soul of a people is reflected by how it treats not only its most vulnerable but also those that have wronged it.
As we gather here on the 33rd anniversary of the June 16 Soweto Uprisings, we must, as the DCS state that more needs to be done and can be done to address the high numbers of youth found at our facilities. Youth are indeed very vulnerable and many find themselves sucked into a life of crime easily as they contend with a range of issues and challenges facing them in our communities – these challenges range from substance abuse to serious crimes.
A matter of special concern for inmates – especially youth, is the constant threat of being sucked into ganglife, especially in the Western Cape, deserves particular mention.  In many respects gangs have become a parallel bureaucracy fuelled by an insidious relationship between corrupt officers and offenders with the lifeline provided by a willing community network in the process of smuggling contraband and creating its own forms of “justice”. The gangs in our facilities are a bureaucracy with its own monopoly of power and are an extension and reflection of the gangs in our communities. It is these gangs that often turn young offenders into hardened criminals by the time they leave our facilities.
As a department we are in a better position to understand the rallying call “Together we can do more”. Indeed, we fully understand when the President says: “As part of building a responsive, interactive and effective government, we must strengthen our partnerships with society.” Part of our interaction with society is to build those partnerships and have long term relations with various Civil Society, Community Based and Faith Based organizations, as well as the Business Sector. Some of these have relations that span years. Some of them have invested Millions of Rand in partnership programs with the Department. I must mention in this regard the Phaphama Alternative to Violence Program and the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO). There are many others worth mentioning but the list would then be too long for our purpose today.
We also remain committed to regional partnerships in the Continent of Africa and beyond, in keeping with the President’s observation that “working with Africa and the rest of the world, we would pursue African advancement and enhanced international cooperation
Speaker, the budget that I am putting before this House for adoption is expected to grow at an average nominal rate of 13.6 per cent from R12.3 billion in 2008/09 to R18.1 billion in 2011/12 (at a nominal average growth rate of 13.6%). The implementation of the seven day establishment allocation for the MTEF is R300 million in each year. Inflation - related adjustments on compensation of R1,245 billion over the MTEF. Capital contribution to PPP correctional facilities of R2,9 billion in 2011/12 towards the 5 new correctional facilities that will provide 15 000 additional bed spaces by 2011/12.
The history of the Department is unpleasant as all of us know. Rewriting that history will require input from all of us in this House and beyond Parliament’s walls. Quoting from the President’s speech once more, let me say: “We also want to work with all political parties, all sectors and all our public servants to build a government that is responsive, interactive and effective” and if we work together “we shall do more to meet our mandate”.
I must as I conclude express my appreciation for the good cooperation I have had from the Judges Van Zyl and Desai. I will work towards strengthening these ties and I must state that some of the issues we have raised here are as a result of the insight they provided me in our initial interactions when I started in this position. I also thank the Deputy Minister and the Portfolio Committee for their counsel.
Thank you.

SPEECH BY CORRECTIONAL SERVICES DEPUTY MINISTER, HONOURABLE HLENGIWE MKHIZE, DURING THE DEPARTMENT’S BUDGET VOTE 18, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, 30 JUNE 2009


Chairperson,
The Honourable Minister of the Department of Correctional Services, Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Mr Vincent Smith,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers from sister Departments,
Honourable Members of the House,
Our National Commissioner, Ms Xoliswa Sibeko,
Management and officials from Correctional Centres,
Representatives of NGOs and other civil society formations,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Introduction

It is, indeed, an honour and a privilege to stand in front of this august House to deliver my maiden speech as Deputy Minister of Correctional Services.  This is a fascinating phase, in our growing democracy, characterised by a successfully concluded fourth democratic elections, with unprecedented numbers, which gave this administration a resounding vote of confidence and a mandate to continue with the transformation agenda.
Chairperson, allow me to add my voice in extending a word of appreciation and gratitude to the previous Minister Ngconde Balfour and Deputy Minister Loretta Jacobus for their contributions in accelerating the transformation of Correctional Services, as well as to all correctional officials, particularly those managing our correctional centres on a daily basis. I also want to extend the same sentiments to all NGOs operating within our correctional centres and in ensuring the smooth reintegration of our ex-offenders back to communities,

We also acknowledge our democratic government for having made a remarkable contribution towards developing policies which are meant to transform our criminal justice system, thereby aligning it with values enshrined in our Constitution and the culture of human rights.

Chairperson, at the onset, I have to put the challenge and the task in our hands in its context. We are facing our own history of the apartheid system, which was declared by the UN as a crime against humanity, as far back as 1948. The Apartheid System led to the break down of the African family unit, the loss of the community values, and, the spirit of Ubuntu. The long-term generational consequences, of the said State-orchestrated violence, is illustrated by numbers of young people who are, continuously, in conflict with the law.

The Correctional Services Act of 1998, and, the White Paper of 2005, are critical pillars to our new agenda. These instruments have laid a firm foundation for a correctional system, within an ethical framework, which protects the integrity of our processes. The most important of these, being respect for the inherent human dignity, of all human beings, irrespective of their personal or social status.

We are presenting aspects of the budget vote, at the time, when the Department is resolved to intensify implementation. It is our firm belief that the South African society, should begin to reap the fruits of the promise of the White Paper.

A Shift from Prisons to Correctional Centres

7. This shift in policy inculcates a new culture, and, mindset by placing the victim, at the centre of the concept of restorative justice. The world learned an important lesson from the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) process, that a lot more can be done through the restoration of dignity of the other, instead, of vindictiveness.

Our new paradigm is based on the premise that victims should remain at the centre of the criminal justice system. The Victims Charter balances the scale of justice and ensures that our work, with offenders, does not compromise our duty and responsibilities towards victims. It emphasises our commitment to “put the needs of the victims at the heart of the criminal justice system”.
 
In this regard, our offender detention, classification, rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes, are influenced by our determination to break the cycle of recidivism.

Offender Classification

10. Classification of offenders, on admission, is a critical step in the processing of devising effective rehabilitation programmes. Classification categories become an objective instrument, through which to measure corrections and development of inmates. In the case of repeat offenders, for instance, our specialists would have to account, in case of frequent occurrences of serious crimes, such as sexual crimes and murder.  As things stand today, we can trace patterns of classification by category and offences, such as:

Children in conflict with the law, 14 to 18
Affluence (girls) – substance abuse 18 to 25
Young women – shoplifting
Husband murder and passions (women)
Cash-in-transit heists (young men)
Armed robbery (young men)

Offender Rehabilitation

11.        I challenge all correctional officials to live up to the spirit of the White Paper. Approach your work with commitment, diligence and integrity with a zero tolerance for corruption.  

12.        We commend you for choosing to work with men and women who are deprived of their liberty, many of whom are drug addicts, some are murderers, some are kleptomaniacs, ,and some have psychopathic tendencies. We rely on you to transfer the values and skills of good citizenry so as to ensure that they return to society as socially responsible and law abiding citizens.

13.        Having placed rehabilitation at the centre of all activities, we will continue to strike a balance between safe custody and rehabilitation.  Chairperson, I call upon the offenders to seize opportunities afforded to them with both hands and begin the journey towards self correction and regain their liberty.

 14. To support this call, elements of the White Paper have been translated into the Offender Rehabilitation Path (ORP), which illustrates the journey of an offender from the point of entering the correctional facility to the point of reintegration into society.
15.        Correctional Services has adopted a Unit Management approach, which focuses on the direct supervision of offenders, whereby each inmate will be allocated to case officers.. With the new approach, each inmate is a focal point. This new approach tracks the individual offender, so that they are not lost in the system. The path of the offender is monitored until reintegration is complete.

Strengthening our interventions to fight the HIV and AIDS scourge

It is encouraging, Chairperson, to note that the Department, in collaboration with the Department of Health, has established 19 wellness centres that, among others, prioritise the fight against HIV and AIDS, providing ARVs to over 6500 inmates nationally. Our Department is a signatory to the SA National AIDS Council (SANAC), a forum aimed at prioritising the HIV and AIDS scourge, which has ravaged many communities.

We must build on what has been achieved over the years by ensuring that anti HIV and AIDS programmes and primary health care are accessible at all centres. We will be interacting with our specialists, like psychologists and psychiatrists so as to ensure that inmates get comprehensive care. One of the areas we need to strengthen is the attraction and retention of scarce skills required to effectively deliver on our rehabilitation programmes.  Currently vacancy rates range from 52% to 70% in the scarce skills categories that include psychologists, pharmacists and medical doctors. We would consult all stakeholders in search for ways of attracting and incentivise professionals with scarce skills.

18. I will pay special attention to the proposed establishment of “Centres of Expertise”, which seek to close the spatial development gaps between rural and under developed areas on one side and urban well-developed areas on the other.

Rehabilitation Challenges

Any therapist who has ever devised a rehabilitation programme will talk about pre-requisites which are essential for interventions to be effective. For the purpose of this Budget Vote, I will be the first to admit that current challenges have too many confounding variables. These have to do with:

Overcrowding
Ill-preparedness of our officials to be caretakers of rehabilitation programmes as against custodial care
High levels of illiteracy amongst our offenders
Conspiracy of silence on the magnitude of dysfunctional families, moral degeneration in society, including the diminishing spirit of Ubuntu,

20. For example, our bed capacity is 115 000, against an inmate population of 165 000. This represents a 42% of overcrowding, which has a negative impact on morale, provision of service and security. This puts a cloud on rehabilitation attempts.

21. The number of correctional centres in South Africa currently stands at 239, with a fraction undergoing renovation and reconstruction. In contrast, there is a growing population of over 165 000 offenders and inmates. Although the said increase is of concern, the impact of our rehabilitation programmes and monitored co-ordination of the criminal justice system, should begin to turn the situation around.

Special categories of offenders

22.        The White Paper has made provisions for a needs-based rehabilitation approach, which implies that offenders are not a uniform entity. There are different categories such as women, children, awaiting trial young offenders with disabilities and the elderly”.

Women

23. Chairperson, I am saddened to announce, to this House, that just yesterday, I   accompanied the Minister to the Pollsmoor Correctional Centre, where we came to terms with the difficulties experienced by infants, children and women in correctional centres.. Much as we acknowledge, the fact that, some of them have broken the law, the majority of them come from extremely difficult socio-economic conditions.
 
24.        Current Correctional Services statistics, indicate that, there are 2489 sentenced women, and 1070 unsentenced women. Chairperson, internationally, women constitute a small fraction of offender populations with South Africa, only having 3359 female offenders among its 165 000 population.  This may sound small and, therefore, negligible, but consider the profoundly important role of women in society. Attention must be given to ensure appropriate responses to this challenge.  I strongly believe there are ruthless and cunning women criminals who deserve to be incarcerated to protect our society.  However, an overwhelming majority of women are in prison purely because of a series of factors, including structural poverty, women abuse and conditions of absolute desperation, given dependence of children, and communities on them, for making ends meet.  We must, therefore, have a differential approach to dealing with this dynamic scenario. 
Ideally, women do not belong in our correctional centres. But we have managed to introduce, a number of programmes that are aimed at alleviating the plight of women and children in our facilities.

25.Further, there are currently 2513 female offenders incarcerated in SA correctional centres, of these, 620 are yet to be sentenced. In addition, there are 151 infants of incarcerated 277 mothers

26. Our biggest challenge is that, our facilities were never designed to address special needs of women. Our aim is to turn the situation around, working hand in hand, with gender experts, in the community to address facilities programmes and to seek alternative forms of serving a sentence.

27.        The international protocols are clear, about a need to avoid imprisonment of women, unless it is a measure of absolute last resort, and I believe we have not explored fully these options as a nation.  More over, our facilities were never designed to address the needs of women and other special categories of offenders, including children and people with disabilities.  Changing our facilities and implementing diversion programmes, collaboratively, with society, accepting this approach, are key areas of delivery in this regard.  A framework for realising these goals, is expected to be finalised by the end of this year. 

We appreciate efforts undertaken, over the past financial year, which resulted in 2130 women participating in development programmes.  I am told, as well, that some cosmetic changes are being effected, including colourful paints courts for infants etc. that contribute towards improving the outlook of female offenders.

Infants

29 The issue of very small babies, in correctional facilities, requires particular sensitive consideration. Currently there are 151 infants, between 0 – 2 years, within our correctional centres. The Correctional Services Act makes provision for keeping children, up to the age of two years, with their incarcerated mothers, in our correctional facilities. Our turnaround strategy, will include collaboration, with experts in the field and will ensure that the Early Childhood Development programmes are introduced. All interventions will be aimed at ensuring that their environment is rendered normal, as soon as it could be done.

30 To address the plight of infants in our correctional centres, our Department will soon launch a campaign aimed at their social reintegration. In this regard, we are inviting communities, religious organisations, civil society at large, and private sector companies, to join us, in establishing a sustainable network towards this just cause. All our efforts should be geared towards achieving what is in the best interest of the child.


Children

31. According to recent statistics there were 860 sentenced children (female = 21, male = 839) (female = 35, male = 768) and 803 unsentenced children in our facilities as at March 2009.  A report released in September 2007 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission blames the lack of a systematic and uniform criminal justice system to protect children in conflict with the law.

32 The above incidence remains our shame, even though our icon Mr Nelson Mandela, as far back as 1993, upon receiving his Nobel Peace Prize, had said, “it is a matter of shame and serious concern that many children in our country are idling in our prisons and police stations”.

33. The inter-departmental task team, driving the process of removing children from the centres, will intensify their work, in keeping with Article 37 (1) of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, that states: “No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily.” And Rule 13 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, that says, ”The arrest, detention or imprisonment shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”
 
34. Chairperson, let us heed the call of the President to build a nation filled with the joy and laughter of children.

Awaiting-trial Detainees (ATDs)

35. There are 32 738 males aged between 18 and 25 years already serving their sentences, whilst a further 22092 are Awaiting-trial Detainees (ATDs). While there are 605 offenders, already sentenced females, a further 405 are awaiting-trial detainees.

36. Due to systematic clogs and overcrowding within the broader criminal justice system, the majority of offenders, within our centres, becomes secondary victims, as they do not enjoy easy access to programmes aimed it rehabilitating them. This affects our Offender Rehabilitation Path, aimed at the speedy social reintegration of ex-offenders, back into society. To address this, the Department is planning to establish a number of specialist centres, where needy offenders are referred to, for special attention.
 
37.Our mission for this term is to decisively capacitate implementation of the framework.  We must strengthen delivery of effective security to protect our people from criminals, be they women, children, people with disabilities or any other vulnerable groups in our society.

Human development approach to fighting crime

38.We are assuming leadership of an institution that has moved to ensure offender development, through provision of education, skills, sport, recreation, arts and cultural competencies.  As a nation, we must appreciate the fact that:

Over 10 000 illiterate and under-skilled offenders, are given a second chance to lead productive and fulfilling lives, through Adult Basic Education,
Productive engagement of 45 000 offenders in various farms, workshops and technical education and computer centres, to mention, but a few, while over 108 000 are engaged in sport, arts and culture that are critical in building characters.

39, We are today, tabling, for your consideration and approval, a budget of R448 million for delivering on these targets. We have a responsibility to ensure that our budget begins to find a balance between security and rehabilitation. We also have to come up with innovative ways of overcoming budgetary limitations.  One of those would be to seek partnerships with agencies like the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), which was launched on June 16, a day of the African Child.


The Social Integration Policy

40. For society to reap the fruits of this policy, we need to embark on social, and, education, conscience raising programmes, so as to ensure that as South Africans, we all join hands for peace and human security. For example, when offenders are released, they need to be reintegrated back to society as
      soon as possible, so as to avoid a temptation to revert back to old habits We do not have the luxury to turn a blind eye. We should not become accessories before the fact. Further, we should contribute towards preventing new offences, by stopping to buy or hide stolen goods in our houses, “ningathi ingane yam iyangiphandela”. Bazali, lugotshwa lusemanzi. In that way, we will be uprooting the core of recidivism.

41.        Offenders from poor, rural communities face serious challenges, as they are released back, to their impoverished communities, with a paucity of social agencies such as half-way houses, Hospice houses, food security and employment opportunities. While opportunities, for employment, are generally scarce, for all ex-offenders, those in rural areas carry an extra burden.

42.        These are some of the strategic issues which should inform our campaigns for wider community participation in the integration and further development of our ex-offenders.

43. The White Paper on Corrections clearly articulates the pivotal role the family, community and the society, at large, play in the rehabilitation and social reintegration of the offender. The family is viewed as the basic building block of society, where right or wrong is taught. We appeal to families to re-inject appropriate cultural norms and values and invest time and resources in the socialisation of the young ones. In instances where family members have got into trouble, the family remains a crucial part of support and reintegration. Let me sound a call to the business sector, to come on board and offer employment opportunities, to ex-offenders, that acquired qualifications, skills and competencies while under our care.

44. Our new agenda includes opening our doors for public scrutiny, within the security parameters. It is imperative to maintain the bonds between the offenders and their families. Family and friends should come and visit inmates, The manner in which families and visitors are treated at various centres, on arrival, is often a good measure, of how well, the correctional centre is managed. We expect our personnel to live, by the principles, of Batho Pele, and treat visitors of our inmates with dignity and respect. We should demonstrate that “we belong, we care and we serve”. In the same vein, we invite communities to participate in our drive to change the lives of offenders by correcting the offending behaviour. We are going to be vigilant, so be warned! Do not smuggle illicit items, placing the lives of offenders, and correctional officers in danger.

Challenges
 
45. In our quest to intensify our implementation agenda, we are cognisant of the many challenges that may mitigate against our intentions.  Overcrowding remains our greatest challenge, to our rehabilitation and re-integration agenda, and, needs collaboration in the criminal justice system to utilise the available legislative provisions to reduce the numbers.  Overcrowding burdens the limited scarce skills.

46. The other challenge, is that, the public has limited knowledge about the correctional system as presented to you today.  Hence, we are going to go out, to the public, and, call for co-operation. Our Imbizos will invite the public to come up with localised community correction forums. One of the key objective of the said community support structures could be to enrol our ex-offenders to industrial parks, so as to ensure that skills acquired during incarceration are further developed for entrepreneurships.

47. Capacity development of personnel, will be prioritised to ensure that there is a buy-in, and, that all role players are equal to the task of driving Correctional Services transformation agenda.



Conclusion

48. Let us join hands and build a crime-free society, and, a correctional system, that operates within an ethical framework to break the cycle of crime and eliminate re-offending.  I invite, all South Africans, to take a leaf from the song of the legend Michael Jackson: “If you want to make a world a better place, start with the man in the mirror and change your ways. The fight is about us, for us, and, for our future.

49. As we approach this great challenge, let us pause and reflect, on the words of President Jacob Zuma, during his maiden State of the Nation Address, when he called on all of us, to focus on that which makes us, human. The President further urged us to develop a shared value system, based on the spirit of community solidarity and caring”.

I thank you





Audio

No related

Documents

No related documents