Report on Visits to Johannesburg, Pretoria & Pollsmoor Prisons

Committee: NCOP Security and Justice

Date of Meeting: 13 Feb 2002

Summary

No summary available for this committee meeting.


Minutes

SELECT COMMITTEE ON SECURITY AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

SECURITY AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
13 February 20001
EASTERN CAPE CORRESPONDENCE & REPORT ON VISITS TO PRISONS

Chairperson:
Mr K Mokoena (ANC)

Documents handed out

Report on the visit to Johannesburg Prison and to the Pretoria Central Prison on 27 August 2001 (See Appendix 1)
Report on the visit to Pollsmoor Prison on 13 June 2001 (See Appendix 2)
Letters from: Dr Theron of the Cape Clinical Forensic Practitioner's Society
The office of the members of Parliament of the Umtata Constituency
The Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature (See Appendix 3)

SUMMARY

The Justice Department reported on the situation faced by the Magistrate's Court in the Umtata region. Officials from the Department of Correctional Services spoke on the progress that had been made regarding the transformation of Correctional Services in the Republic.

MINUTES:

Mr Mokoena (ANC) welcomed Mr P Maloyi (ANC) and Mrs J Kgoali (ANC). He also introduced the committee researcher, Mr Bafana Makhubo, who was directly linked to the committee, and available to assist members.

Mr Alfred Tsetsane, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services and Mr Ayanda Xishe were present from the Correctional Services Department.

Mr Ennes Allers introduced himself as the representative from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) welcomed the Parliamentary Monitoring Group official.

Department of Justice
Mr Allers stated that Mr Mokoena (ANC) had correctly indicated that there were real problems in the Magistrate's Department in Umtata, with particular reference to the Maintenance Division. The department of Justice had established a task team that went out to the area in September/October 2001. This team investigated the matter, and he said that the Department of Justice was in the process of compiling a report. Although a preliminary report showing real problems was ready, the final report would only be available within the next three weeks. For this reason, he asked for the permission of the committee to have an extension to the middle of March to present the report.

Discussion
Ms J Kgoali (ANC) stated that officials in the Department of Justice were not efficient in conveying feedback. The committee would appreciate receiving the report as soon as it was completed.

Mrs Kgoali (ANC) added that the concern raised in Umtata was not only an Umtata concern. She suggested that the Department of Justice should look throughout the country to obtain a broad update.

Mr Allers replied that the department had a Sub-Office Review Committee that dealt with inspecting the various sub offices and this would be completed in future.

Correspondence from Eastern Cape & Reports on Visits to Prisons
All members had received copies of the correspondence from the Eastern Cape and reports on the visits to prisons. Members were given some time to read through the documentation.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) apologised for rushing the committee through the reports. He stated that the reports contained the problems that they were aware of, such as overcrowding. He reminded the committee of the delegations that they had sent to visit some of the prisons, and where they had discovered conditions that were not conducive for people. He asked that committee if they were in a position to adopt the reports and interrogate them at a later stage, or if there were any alternative proposals. He was aware that there was a Correctional Services Bill in the process, and then asked if the committee wanted to treat the reports as official reports.

Ms Kgoali (ANC) said that it was unfortunate that some of them were new to the committee. She suggested that because of having gone over the report quickly, it would be proper to continue with the report. This would avoid having to start anew at a later stage. She then proposed that the committee would adopt the reports as working documents.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) said that the reports would now be regarded as official documents of the committee. The two letters were acknowledged. He decided that it would be better to deal with the letters as a committee instead of calling the senders to make formal presentations.

Discussion
Ms Kgoali (ANC) was concerned with the abnormal numbers in the prisons as this became a health hazard. What steps were being taken to deal with this? She added that she had heard the Minister on television talking about reducing the numbers of those awaiting trial. However, she wondered, given the fact that there were 3887persons awaiting trial, what charges were being faced?

Ms Kgoali (ANC) stated that the issue of corruption amongst staff members in the correctional services was also important.

Mr P Zulu (ANC) was concerned that terminally ill prisoners were kept in prison whilst awaiting trial, and would not be discharged to the care of their families. It was a terrible situation where dead bodies would lie in cells, with the living prisoners, for up to two days before collection. He could not understand how this was justified by the fact that the police would say that they did not have transport to collect the bodies!

Mr Horne (NNP) was of the opinion that the officials had to take the reports and return at a later stage with responses to the problems contained therein.

Mr Maloyi (ANC) said that the committee had just adopted the reports as official documents.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) had mentioned that the officials had not come to the meeting with the answers that would allow a proper interrogation to be carried out. He then reminded the committee that by looking at the reports, one could see that the police had the power to arrest, the justice department had the power to prosecute, and the correctional services had the duty to detain. This then called for the co-operation between the department of Public Works in order to provide the services required. Thus he proposed that it would not be proper to discuss the reports at this stage. He suggested inviting the officials to come back at a later stage.

Department of Correctional Services
Mr Tsetsane stated that they had checked the committee programme, and had found that the meeting to be held on 20 March 2002 would be dealing with issues similar to those they faced. He suggested that they would report back to the committee on that day because they needed the time to deal thoroughly with the issues.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) stated that Mr Tsetsane was seconding the proposal by Mr Maloyi (ANC).

Mrs Kgoali (ANC) seconded the proposal by Mr Maloyi (ANC) that a full briefing would take place next week. She concluded that it would be correct, however, to respond to the letters that had been received, unless this had already been taken care of.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) thanked her and stated that that is exactly what the committee was going to do. However, he felt that the issue could not wait for March, and proposed that a meeting be held next week.

The committee agreed on this proposal.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) took the opportunity to enquire into their Bill that had been demonised by the justice department.

Mr Tsetsane responded that the President had assented to the Bill, and that it was now on its way to Parliament.

Mr Mokoena stated that they would meet next week. He hoped that the members were aware that 4 - 8 March 2002 would be a provincial week. They were all expected to be in their respective provinces. The Chief Whip had asked that activities be carried out in the individual provinces, and added that he had consulted with their researcher and come up with a number of items. However, he said that the office of the Chief Whip would liase with the various provinces, and their duty was simply to make sure that they participate in a few of the activities during the week.

Mr Maloyi (ANC) said that the committee agreed with the initiatives. He suggested adding a concern for human rights issues.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) thanked him for the suggestion and said that it would be possible. He said that they were avoiding producing an essay for the members because they, as members, would know what had to be done.

Mrs Kgoali (ANC) felt that after the week, it would be beneficial to meet as a committee in order to report back and share. She stated that this was an area for empowerment of the individual members of Parliament, and thus they had to be very focused in carrying out their tasks.

Mr Zulu (ANC) asked about the position regarding the recruitment reservists.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) was unsure of the matter. He stated that the Committee Researcher would advise him on the moratorium on recruitment, specifically whether it had been lifted.

Mrs Kgoali (ANC) mentioned that there had been some sort of programme in Gauteng. Thus it was possible that there was extra information which the committee was not aware of. For this reason she felt that it would be necessary to have clear information before stating facts that one was unsure of.

Mr Maloyi (ANC) agreed with Mrs Kgoali (ANC).

Mr Mokoena (ANC) thanked them. He informed the members that there was a card that would give them easy access into correctional services, and requested that cards be delivered to the new members.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1
Report on the visit to Johannesburg Prison and to the Pretoria Central Prison on 27 August 2001

Report of the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs on a trip to Johannesburg prison and Pretoria Central prison on 27 August 2001.

1.Terms of reference
Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs is currently dealing with Correctional Services Amendment Bill. The Bill deals among others with the release of unsentenced prisoners by the Minister with the concurrence of the Minister of Justice. During interactions with the Department, the inspecting judge of prisons, Judge Fagan informed the Committee about the bad state of prison with respect to overcrowding especially in Johannesburg prison.

2.Background
The Committee unanimously agreed to visit the prisons and assess the extent of overcrowding as part of the public hearing process. A multiparty delegation to the prisons consisted of six members led by Mr T S Setona went to visit the prisons.

3.Procedure

Johannesburg prison
The Committee met with the Correctional Services delegation led by the Provincial Commissioner Mr Modise, Area Commissioner Mr Davids and other prison officials. The prison consists of four prisons making up the Johannesburg Management Area. It services 28 courts. The approved capacity is 4337. The structure of the prison is made up of the following sections, Medium A, Medium B, Maximum and Female section. There is a serious problem of overcrowding in the prison. This affects the infrastructure and causes the degeneration of the buildings.

The awaiting trial prisoners are more than what the prison is meant to accommodate.
In medium A the cells are made to accommodate 19 inmates but there are currently
38 of them. In medium B there are 88 beds and 109 inmates instead of 38 which is the
approved number.

After discussions with the prisons officials, the delegation made an in loco inspection to the cells. The Medium A holds predominantly awaiting trial male offenders. Medium B holds sentenced male offenders. Maximum is a juvenile section. The female prison houses offenders as well as infants who could not be separated from their mothers.

There are 88 inmates occupying a cell that accommodates 34 inmates with one toilet, a shower and a basin. A total number of unsentenced juveniles is 733. There are four prisoners currently on the system who are awaiting trial for two to four years.

Medical Services
There are professional nurses deployed in the prison. In addition to their patient care duty, they are responsible for health information and education sessions to newly admitted inmates on access to medical services.

HIV/AIDS and Mental Illness
This is a crisis especially among unsentenced prisoners. With sentenced prisoners, it is controllable. There are also mentally ill inmates. This has an impact on members, which is much visible in absenteeism. Some members are involved in criminal activities.

Findings
Having made in loco inspections the Committee observed the following:

1.The Medium A, section was filthy, leakages from the busted pipes, stinking and floors not clean.

2.Prisoners are classified according to court dates and not in terms of crimes committed which could result in prisoners with minor charges having a hardened attitude when discharged.

3.The female section had leakages as well but renovations and repairs are in process.

4.A number of 109 inmates are accommodated in a cell ideal to accommodate 39 prisoners with one toilet not in a working condition.

5.The terminally ill prisoners who are awaiting trial are kept in prison in spite of their serious conditions. The reason being that these prisoners are under the SAPS jurisdiction and not correctional services

6.These prisoners do not exercise except to go out for sunlight

7.It takes a day or two for a body of a prisoners who has died to be removed from the cells.

8.The Committee was also told that the prison has a high rate of corruption in terms of smuggling.

9.The prison officials have confiscated a number drugs and other unauthorised/illegal staff from the prisoners which were smuggled through by the visitors.

10Some members are alleged to be involved in criminal activities.

Pretoria Central Prison
The Committee accompanied by the Provincial Commissioner met with the Area Commissioner Mr Manaba. The Area Commissioner informed the Committee that the Pretoria Management Area has five prisons. There is a slight problem of overcrowding in these prisons that needs attention.

There are prisoners who were granted bail less than R1000. They are kept in the cells because they can not afford to pay the money.

In loco inspection
The Committee made in loco inspection to the prison. The prison is divided into four sections namely C- Max, Sections A, B, and C. The C-Max is divided into two sections, the first one accommodates prisoners that are regarded as dangerous and violent in that they attack each other and officials. They are placed in single cells.

Section C accommodates high profile criminals and heist criminals like Colleen Chauke. This section has a mix of both sentenced and unsentenced prisoners staying in single and communal cells. Prisoners in both sections are hardened and habitual criminals who serve long sentences.

Findings
1.The conditions in Pretoria prison were not as bad as those of the Johannesburg prison. The cells were clean and not so overcrowded.

2.During interaction with the inmates the Committee found that there were prisoners who have been awaiting trial for three and a half to four years.

3.There are prisoners in the juvenile section who were granted bail by the courts of R500 and less but are still kept there because they cannot afford to pay the money.

Appendix

Report of the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs on a visit to Pollsmoor prison on 3 June 2001.

1. Terms of reference

Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs is currently dealing with Correctional Services Amendment Bill. The Bill deals among other things with the release of unsentenced prisoners by the Minister in concurrence of the Minister of Justice. During interactions with the Department, the inspecting judge of prisons, Judge Fagan, informed the Committee about the bad state of the prisons in terms of overcrowding, especially in Pollsmoor and Johannesburg prisons.

2. Background

The Committee unanimously agreed to visit the prisons and assess the extent of overcrowding as part of the public hearing process. A multi-party delegation of six members led by the Chairperson, Mr J L Mahlangu went to visit Pollsmoor prison.

3. Procedure

Report on Pollsmoor Prison
The Committee met with the Correctional Services delegation led by the Acting

Provincial Commissioner, Mr Makhetshane, Mr Sinclair, Director Functional

Services; the Area Manager, and other prison officials.

The Commissioner informed the Committee that whereas Pollsmoor is capacitated to accommodate 4336 inmates, the extent of overcrowding is currently is 7371. The structure of the prison is made up of the following sections: Medium A, Medium B, Medium C, B4 section, B5 section and Female section.

There are 3887 awaiting trial and 3417 sentenced prisoners. In one of the cells in medium A there are 45 inmates instead of the approved 18. The inmates share beds and some sleep on the floor.

There are two young children under the age of 14. One of them has been found guilty and will be sentenced on the 24 June 2001.

Projects run in the prison

There are some projects like the center for conflict resolutions sponsored by NGO's like NICRO, Zikhulele AIDS project: Revlon SA is helping in hairdressing training.

Escapes

The escapees statistics had been provided for the whole Western Cape Province since

1998. In 1998 there were 78 escapees and the number has reduced to 38 in 1999 and

23 in 2001, as pronounced on the newspapers. To date the number is seven.

Issues of corruption

There had been reported cases of corruption among members of staff. During the previous two weeks a member was caught with dagga in Medium A. On 11 June 2001 another member was caught with dagga, cocaine and firearms and is still in custody.

There are also some cases of corruption during recruitment. A mechanism has been put in place to monitor corruption during recruitment. The Department is open for the public to lodge complaints and report cases of corruption during recruitment. The Department then investigates and disciplinary measures are taken where necessary.

Impact of overcrowding on Staff members

The situation in the prison has an impact on the staff members physically and mentally. A number of staff members has left the Department due to stress related pr some medical reasons, some take sick leave because of the pressure. Others abuse alcohol and prescribed drugs to cope with the situation.

In loco inspections

After discussions with the prison officials, the delegation made an in loco inspection to the cells. Medium A holds predominantly awaiting trial male offenders. Medium B holds sentenced male offenders. Maximum is a juvenile section. The female prison houses offenders as well as infants that are too young to be separated from their mothers.

Findings

Having made in loco inspections the Committee observed the following:

1.The Medium A, section was filthy. There were leakages from busted pipes, stinking and floors not clean.

2.There is no privacy to toilet facilities. 66 inmates instead of the approved 39 sharing a cell with one shower, one basin and one toilet.

3.Blankets are insufficient, and sometimes prisoners have only one blanket to arm themselves with against the cold winters.

4.Prisoners sometimes do not change their clothing for some days, and often have to sleep naked because they have to wash their only outfit at night to have it ready for the following day.

5.Cases of sodomy and assault have been reported.

6.The terminally ill prisoners who are awaiting trial are kept in prison in spite of their serious conditions, the reason being that these prisoners are under the SAPS jurisdiction and not Correctional Services.

7.There are prisoners who were granted bail of below R1000. Sometimes bail is fixed too high for petty offences.

8.Sometimes it takes a day or two for a body of a prisoners who has died to be removed from the cells one of the reasons being that the police mortuary does not have a van to come and pick up the corpse.


Appendix 3
Letters from: Dr Theron of the Cape Clinical Forensic Practitioner's Society
The office of the members of Parliament of the Umtata Constituency
The Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature

Letter from Dr Theron of the Cape Clinical Forensic Practitioner's Society
4 February 2002

Dear Sir
RE:CONTINUING CRISIS IN HEALTH MANAGEMENT AT POLLSMOOR PRISON; AND CONTINUING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES ESPECIALLY WITH AWAITING TRIAL PRISONERS

I request an urgent meeting with you and your colleague the Chairperson of the Select Committee to discuss the ongoing crisis in health management and human rights abuses which continue especially in the case of awaiting trial prisoners.

You will be aware from my previous submissions and those of my colleagues working at Pollsmoor of the complex nature of the problems there. However all attempts by ourselves and the local members of Correctional Services have failed to obtain any realistic response from Head Office. The result is that we are at least ten nursing staff fewer that the essential number required to man the health service at Pollsmoor. This crisis has continued unabated since the problems were highlighted before the Portfolio and the Select Committees. We are unable to continue without urgent intervention and relief.

Every channel has been tried time and again without success. We are reluctant to go outside official channels and for example use the media. The situation is so bad that almost every nurse at Pollsmoor is looking for alternative work. We cannot afford any further reduction of staff or loss of experience. At the same time the incidence of abuse against prisoners has increased both directly and indirectly. This cannot be allowed to continue. With nearly 8000 prisoners and 2000 staff members working daily at Pollsmoor the health risks for the City will be enormous if our Health Management is allowed to disintegrate any further.

I trust you will understand the urgency of my request and the seriousness of this matter.

I await your immediate response.

I'd appreciate if the meeting could be set for Thursday, 7 February 2002.

Yours sincerely

Dr Paul Theron
Chairperson
Cape Clinical Forensic Practitioners' Society

Letter from the office of the members of Parliament of the Umtata Constituency
OFFICE OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
(UMTATA CONSTITUENCY)

February 5, 2002

Dear Sir
APPLICATION FOR A MEETING TO ATTEND TO GRIEVANCES REFERRED BY PRISONERS

We refer to previous correspondence and our meeting herein,

1.
During the latter half of 1999 this office made proposals to the Head of the Umtata Central Prison around the issue of alleged human rights violations by members of Correctional Services in that Prison These relate to assault, denial of medical care, family visits and theft of prisoners food by members of Correctional Services, etcetera.

2.
In response and after consultation with his Superiors, the Head of Prison had expressed the view that the grievances, then referred to us, could still be resolved through existing prison channels.

3.
We accordingly encouraged those communicating grievances to us that they should raise the issues they complained about with the Prison Authorities

4.
Subsequent correspondence and presentations made by relatives of the aggrieved prisoners are to the effect that the situation is instead worsening in terms of maltreatment.

5.
What one has to contend with in this matter is the fact that the complaints are against the Prison Officers by the Prisoners and this, definitely, has implications when it comes to endeavours to resolve the problems and restore confidence in our Correctional Services.

6.
The present Constitution does not free us, as public representatives, of the duty to listen to the complaints of prisoners, and, in fact, leaves us with no option but to attend to their grievances.

7
That being the case we earnestly make a plea that justice would be served by allowing us to meet the prisoners concerned, preferably before the Human Rights month March 2002 by which period we intend to see this matter resolved and constructively closed.

Yours Faithfully

Themba Manyosi: MPL

9 June 2000

The Head of Prison
Umtata Central Prison
UMTATA

Dear Sir

REQUEST FOR AN INQUIRY INTO PRISONER GRIEVANCES

1 I refer to our previous proposal for an investigation of the prisoners grievances as outlined in our Memorandum dated 30 October 1999 and your response in which your 9ood office explained that the said grievances were not beyond internal control.

2This office is under pressure to find CL way by which the allegedly persistent violation of human rights at the prison can be stopped, once and for all.

3May we propose that we meet with the Head of Prison and any other officer in a position of authority, so that we can find a lasting solution to this problem. Such a meeting should1 if possible, take place at 2pm on Thursday, 15 June 2000.

We leave this in your good hands.

Yours sincerely

UMTATA CONSTITUENCY OFFICE

Letter from Eastern Cape Legislature
Dear Chairperson Mahlangu

URGENT ATTENTION TO MAINTENANCE CRISIS: UMTATA; EASTERN CAPE

Please receive this submission that is forwarded from the Women's Caucus of the
Eastern Cape Legislature to the National Committee on Security and Constitutional
Affairs.

The Women's Caucus became concerned with regard to a situation of which they were appraised in Umtata, Eastern Cape. Many of the women were not receiving maintenance payouts as they should have been. Funding was sourced and two representatives from the Legislature, including the Deputy Speaker, Ms Marasha, undertook a "fact finding mission" to verify or disclaim the hearsay reports. The report attached presents the terms of reference, method of work, submissions and recommendations.

Since the fact-finding mission, Members have gone to the area and offices on review visits and have found that the situation has in fact become worse and that it is at a crisis level. Urgent and appropriate remedies are sought.

We request that the National Select Committee take note of the situation and deliberate on their recommendations and course of action. We hereby submit the report for your urgent action and immediate attention.

We thank you

N L JAJULA
CHAIRPERSON OF WOMEN'S CAUCUS

Report of Women's Caucus dated 29 May 2001

1. Terms of reference
A meeting of the Women's Caucus on the 1/02101, the MPL's took a decision to make the caucus have a more practical and hands-on approach. There are a number of urgent maintenance issues that are not being addressed under the new maintenance legislation.

2. Method of work
Ms M. Marasha and Mr M \4ampunye went to Umtata Constituency to address the issues. Meetings were held with relevant stakeholders.

3. Submissions -

a) The officials working at the Department of Welfare issuing the maintenance grants are very rude to beneficiaries

b) There are lots of delays involved in payment process. Some of the officials are bribed by certain individuals to speed up their payments. The bribery amounts are between R50.00 and R20.00.

c) When beneficiaries collect their grant they are often told there is no money in their accounts yet deductions are reflected in payslip of payees.

d) The beneficiaries were informed that SANDF and SAPS did not deposit any money for four to seven months. It was later discovered that the problem was with the welfare department.

e) Sometimes a beneficiary from SANDF register names of other beneficiaries A date will be given by officials for payment of the maintenance grant. When beneficiaries come to collect their money only one will be paid. The others will be told there is not sufficient money to pay all of them.

At some point the women phoned SANDF in Pretoria and were informed that money is deposited every month.

f) Beneficiaries are told they have signed for their cheques even though they have not done so. They are shown the signature and are not given the money.

g) People who are owed arrears are not paid full amounts. If the arrears are for five months, the beneficiary will receive money for two months.

h) Beneficiaries claim that the uneducated people are the worst to be robbed. The office was running smoothly when there were two officials. Chaos started when the two officials were promoted and the five officials presently working are not coping.

Recommendation
1.
The Department must deposit the maintenance money directly to beneficiaries accounts.

Meeting with the Chief Magistrate and officials
The Chief Magistrate informed the Members about his concerns regarding the attitude and behaviour of the officials. He had on numerous occasions addressed the problems with the officials. He requested the officials to change their attitude towards the people and to be polite.

Other senior officials have also on several times talked with officials about their attitude and unsatisfactory work. The officials are very argumentative. They inform beneficiaries to come to the office and continuously do not pay them.

The officials informed the Members that following departments create a problem as they deposit money late and their schedules are not properly done, Correctional Services, Finance Department in Bisho, Water Affairs and SANDF. Once the money arrives, the beneficiaries expect to be paid immediately yet there are processes to be followed.

The money from the institutions is entered into the cashbook and numerous hand cheques done. The cashbook involves a lot of debits, new entries, checking, signing and listing. The officials service approximately 3 000 people monthly.

Another problem is money deducted and reflecting ~n the payslip is not deposited to the department. The office has a record of all the maintenance grants paid to beneficiaries. The problem is that most institutions deposit the money late. Money for April is received in May. It is receipted, put in cards and the beneficiaries are informed about the pay out dates.

Recommendations
1. The officials must explain procedures to the beneficiaries. Try and improve quality of work

2. A unit of two officials established to attend to complaints

3 Training and workshops to be facilitated

4 Cheques to be electronically done

5 Management to improve on monitoring


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