Canadian Tour; Implementation of Parole Act: discussion

Correctional Services

23 April 2002
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

23 April 2002

Chairperson: Mr Fihla

The Committee noted with concern the delay in implementation of the Parole Act.
Correctional Services' Commanders would be invited for an explanation.

The date and number of delegates for the proposed Canadian tour was discussed.

The Chair said that members expected a briefing by the minister but he had requested a shift in dates so that he could combine the briefing with the budget presentation.

The Chair pointed out that a visit by the Commission on parole was pending.

Canadian Tour
The Chair raised the issue with regard to the committees' proposed visit to Canada. He presented a letter that he had received from the South African High Commissioner to Canada requesting a change in the date for the visit.

The letter advised that the committees' proposed date in June was inappropriate since it fell within the Canadian vacation calendar when most public servants were not working. The letter then promised to advise the committee on an ideal date in due course.

The Chair suggested that the Committee propose an alternative date to which the High Commission offices would respond to instead of awaiting for them to pick a date, which might not suit the Parliamentary timetable. The Chair then proposed a date in September, which fell in the parliamentary recess.

Mr Swart (ACDP) proposed the month of July, which was the earliest parliamentary recess.

Ms Dlamini (ANC) supported the Chair on the September date. The Committee endorsed the September date.

The Chair advised all parties to discuss who would be included in the tour. He explained that the High Commission had advised that the ideal number for such a visit should be a maximum of seven persons. He noted that the ANC and the CDP were ready and called on other parties to make urgent preparations in this regard.

Mrs Cupido queried the Chairs' method of calling on parties to decide on the persons to be included in the tour when the practice had always been that the Chair was the one to identify parties that would be making the trip.

Mr van Deventer (NNP) suggested that smaller parties should be allowed to fully participate in this exercise.

Ms Sosibo (ANC) said that the Chair was on the right track. She expressed the view that parties should be allowed to decide among themselves who would be included in the tour list. She objected to the suggestion that this was the responsibility of the Chair.

Ms Dlamini suggested that the Chair consult parties to facilitate the process to which the Chair objected. The Chair said that such a move would complicate the matter further.

The Chair read out the relevant parliamentary rule regarding such representation, which vindicated the decision, he had taken.

The Chair pointed out that the Committees' research unit would be approached to help in drawing out a specific function for each delegate. Each delegate would have to present a report-back on the trip.

Mr Swart (CDP) strongly supported the Chair on this strategy noting that he had worked on many task teams and that division of labour ensured maximum utilisation of the available resources. He offered to help in the drafting of the programme if need be.

Parole Act
The Chair discussed the recently passed Parole Act, which was not being implemented as swiftly as expected. This delay in implementation should be examined by the Committee in their oversight role.

He added that the Committee would like to know from the correctional Services Commanders why the Provinces were not implementing this law expeditiously.

The Chair also noted that he had received many letters from prisoners suggesting that access to the inspecting judge was constrained. He hoped the Commissioners would be in a position to explain this unhappy situation when they appeared before the Committee.

Mr Swart (ACDP) agreed with the Chair and said that access even to independent visitors was unnecessarily restrictive. He added that it seemed the Correctional Services did not comprehend the purpose of the new Bill that allowed the condition of bail to be amended on medical grounds. This should be explained to the officers.

The Chair concurred with Mr Swart in the view that correctional Services should be better informed on the promulgated Acts.

The meeting was adjourned.



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