The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services briefed the Committee on policy going forward, emphasising the values of supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. He stated that the ministry did not have vested interests of any kind, and would not be defending the indefensible. He spoke about the importance of making justice affordable and accessible to all the people of South Africa, and commended the South African Legal Aid Board in this regard. Referring to the joining of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Ministry of Correctional Services, he said that this would bring about greater collaboration and synergisation of services. He indicated that corruption and problems with the National Prosecuting Authority management would be dealt with strictly going forward.
Discussion brought up the increased workload under the joined ministries and problems with motivating for an increased budget. Issues with the senior management of the NPA and the failure to honour court orders were raised. However, the Minister's comments about addressing corruption were welcomed. The Minister said that he did not wish to comment on issues outside his purview and requested that the Committee allow internal processes to run their course. He indicated that he had requested a cessation of hostilities within the NPA management. Questions were also raised about the independence of the Chief Justice and the role of interpreters in the judicial process.
The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) gave a presentation on its budget and financial constraints, and explained how its Independent Correctional Centre Visitor (ICCV) process worked. It raised concerns over its reliance on the Department of Correctional Services with regard to appointments and budget, and requested the Committee's assistance on this, especially in terms of sections 88 and 91 of the Correctional Services Act. It was suggested that the JICS may become a government component in its own right. The Committee asked for clarity on how it could assist, and asked questions about the effectiveness and independence of JICS. Mr Zach Modise, Acting National Commissioner of DCS, indicated a willingness to work with the JICS to resolve these problems.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) presented its 2014/15 strategic plan and annual performance plan. It outlined the values underpinning the work of the DCS going forward, as well as the situational analysis leading to the plan. It showed links between the plan and the National Development Plan.
The Committee raised concerns about corruption within DCS, the high vacancy rate and whether or not the DCS was able to meet its targets. DCS responded to questions from the Committee about its HR management, the improvement of its IT systems, its rehabilitation objectives, and healthcare within correctional centres. There was a discussion on the feasibility of DCS's planned development of 18 new facilities.
The DCS presented its Estimates of National Expenditure for 2014/15. The budget indicated large amounts spent on incarceration and the rollout of electronic monitoring. The Committee asked about the qualified audit reports from the Auditor General in the past and the large amounts spent on property payments and employee remuneration.
The Chairperson, Dr M S Motshekga, said he had received apologies from Judge Vuka Tshabalala, Inspecting Judge for the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, who was abroad.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had agreed that in the conduct of its business, respect for others would guide all members, because in the past there had been experiences where some MPs would harass officials, humiliate them, and in this Committee, that would not be acceptable. There were many better ways of putting questions and soliciting answers without harassment and humiliation. This was a multi-party forum for the consideration of national issues, so only superior argument should be used. All members were united by one thing, which was to take South Africa forward. Officials who come to the Committee should relax, but prepare well. The presence of the Minister, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery, and Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Mr Thabang Makwetla, was noted.
Policy Briefing by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
Adv Michael Masutha, Minister for Justice and Correctional Services, said that there had been many friendships that had developed, and a sense of collegiality that he would want to underpin their relationships. He congratulated all the political parties that had made their way back to Parliament as well as the new ones, and paid special tribute to the many faces from opposition benches, saying that the department certainly saw a situation of greater collaboration across political parties. When Parliament asked questions, the Executive should be open and transparent and answer questions fully to show respect to Parliament, because in terms of the Constitution, they accounted to Parliament.
He indicated that he and his team did not have vested interests of any kind, internally and externally, and were guided by the principles of supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law, and that the department would not be protecting and defending the indefensible, just to take a defensive stance. The department would take measures that sought to instil a culture of good and clean governance, and he looked forward to interacting with the Auditor General to get a sense of how the department had been faring in responding to this challenge. He had asked senior management from both sides to do everything needed to put them on the path of clean governance. Things such as people not honouring court decisions, where people are dismissed unfairly, merely due to someone's ego being bruised, for example, would be unacceptable. The department is not there for its own personal interests, but to serve. The values, culture and ethos that should underpin daily actions must mirror that kind of understanding. The department had a set of fundamental foundational principles, guidelines, and goals that inform what this is about, drawing firstly from the founding provisions and preamble of the Constitution, as well as the
of Rights, with Chapter 9 institutions to act as watchdogs, and the rule of law, that talked to the body of laws that the department is duty-bound to honour.
Over and above that, the administration of the day implemented policies of government which, in turn, were underpinned and informed by the policies of the political party of the day. The ANC was the government of the day on the basis of a manifesto that espoused the kind of policies that have been developed and found expression in government policy. As officers and officials of government, they had made a promise to give effect to that. Key to this promise was to fight crime and corruption, and that was right at the heart of the mandate of this particular portfolio. It was a mandate that was shared more broadly within the cluster. The National Development Plan, which was the overarching policy framework, talked about working towards a South Africa where all of its people were and felt safe. The question was: what contribution was the department going to make towards the attainment of that goal? Prevention had to be one of the core interventions made collectively across government.
There was a need to deliver a justice system through the courts and all the other services that supported it, be they legal aid, prosecutorial services, etc. which were accessible and affordable. To that end, there were initiatives that were underway. The cost of litigation had become extremely exorbitant and the department needed to find ways in which ordinary South Africans could enjoy justice. The South African Legal Aid Board was given the thumbs up for being a model system for the world on how to make justice affordable and accessible at an international conference during the previous week. It was very pleasing for the Minister to inherit an institution that had maintained clean audits for the last 11 years. The Legal Aid Board had developed new ways of making justice accessible through phone-in services where people get free legal advice online, provided by competent lawyers, and so on. The strides that had been made, such as new courts that have been built over the last 20 years, the kind of expansion that had taken place to make justice accessible, especially in historically disadvantaged areas, was remarkable.
The Minister expressed appreciation to his predecessor, Minister Jeff Radebe, for his work in expanding the infrastructure of the system during his term, referring to the building and revamping of new courts such as the one in Limpopo, and the work towards building one in Mpumalanga. There were courts in historically black townships and rural areas which were not full service courts, because it had been deemed that black people did not need the services that white people did. All of that was something of the past. Increasingly there had been the reestablishment of most of the black areas’ courts so that civil claims, maintenance claims and other specialist services could be found closest to where people lived.
The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Development with the Correctional Services department had become a single ministry and were in the process of putting together initiatives that gave full expression to that purpose, which was to enhance greater integration and coordination and synergisation of services, working in a relay method from one end of the system to the other. But it was also to ensure that one system reinforced the other. If the courts worked efficiently and presiding officers took full charge of their courts and reined everybody in as captains of their own ships, the ripple effect would be fewer people awaiting trial and crowding correctional centres unnecessarily. This was just an example of areas where gains could be achieved both from the side of the criminal justice system, leading up to conviction, as well as freeing up space in our correctional facilities, which were at 129% full – though that figure varied from facility to facility. There were a number of interventions that could contribute towards reducing this overcrowding. The Minister was scheduled to meet with Judge Tshabalala to look at their findings.
Our jails were perceived to be “death sentence places” because of high risks of infection by life-threatening diseases and the Minister wanted to go into the depth of this perception to find if it was correct. Officials from the Inspectorate office told the Minister that, contrary to popular view, the conditions in jails were not as bad as they are projected. There is a standing arrangement for the Committee to receive the report to interrogate this at will. What you read is not necessarily what pertains. The department wanted to beef up its communication services to reduce levels of speculation. The same issue exists with allegations of corruption, the court system, etc. The department’s approach is one of good clean governance. That was its value system. The Minister did not carry a briefcase full of tenders and jobs for everybody. All South Africans should be treated fairly and equally. However, black economic empowerment was national policy and the department should not be shy to give effect to that and should not see itself as outside of national policy. There should be an intensification of internships. For example, the Office of the Auditor General had involved young black women in the auditing profession and increased the number of trainees who qualify from 8% to 32%. The department could not say that its brief was just crime prevention and tackling corruption, but it should lead in that regard. It was spring-cleaning time. Any tenders that had been awarded improperly must be investigated and if fault was found, that must be corrected, whatever that correction by law required.
The flouting of rules and prescripts of government had to be dealt with. Before the NPA prosecuted anyone, it should look at itself in the mirror and say: “Am I clean?”. If there was evidence of a corrupt magistrate, the Magistrate's Commission and the ethics committee should investigate and make a finding against the magistrate. But only Parliament could remove the magistrate. People should not talk in general terms about high levels of corruption but do nothing about it, as if they did not have recourse. We should stop talking down upon ourselves as a nation. He believed that Correctional Services was there to provide rehabilitation to offenders to return to society as members of society, but one of the things that needed to be explored is what they could do to give back to society while they were incarcerated. The agricultural programs of the Department of Correctional Services needed to be expanded to rural poor communities that need that kind of support. The department should use the capacity and the footprint that it has across the country, and engage young people and teach them to turn away from criminal behaviour but also give them a set of skills. Young people are disengaged and find alternative ways to keep themselves busy, so they needed to be drawn in to productive, socially gainful activities.
The Chairperson said that, from today going forward, none of the Members will be in doubt as to what the vision and mission of the Ministry was and he assured the Minister that this Committee would exercise its oversight vigorously, but would ensure that its criticism is constructive criticism, so that the department can achieve what the Minister had set out as its objectives.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) appreciated the executive decision to put Correctional Services and Justice and Constitutional Development together under one ministry, there was now a joint parliamentary committee that deals with both of those portfolios and an increased workload. He foresaw difficulties with having to both exercise oversight and pass legislation. The previous Committee had argued strenuously during the Department budget review process for an increase in the budget and continually raised those concerns with the National Treasury. At the end of the financial year, it appeared that there had been significant underspending of the department’s budget, and that made it more difficult to motivate an increase. The main component of the underspending related to capital expenditure. There were problems that lay with the Department of Public Works. On a ministerial level it was very important to engage the department’s counterpart to investigate these problems, referring to the delay in the building of the Limpopo court and its impact on service delivery, and asked the minister to comment on that. Secondly, the minister had alluded to the non-compliance of court orders. Mr Swart referred to newspaper reports about the Chief of the National Defence Force and others allegedly being in contempt of court. He asked what steps were going to be taken to ensure that court orders were complied with.
Mr J Selfe (DA) said that the minister certainly gave an encouraging speech and that he looked forward to achieving these objectives. Referring to Mr Swart’s comments about the joint ministry, he said there was now half a minister and a deputy for correctional services. It was a big department with 243 facilities and 42 000 staff members. There has been a history of corruption in that department and so he welcomed the Minister’s comments about spring cleaning, as well as greater transparency. He could give chapter and verse of the Minister’s predecessor avoiding answering questions in Parliament. He referred to what the Minister said about not honouring court decisions and referred to a case involving the DA and the acting National Director of Public Prosecutions. There was a very clear court order from the Supreme Court of Appeal ordering him to hand over some documents that the DA was still waiting for, and Mr Selfe asked for the Minister’s assistance in the carrying out of that particular court order.
Ms G Breytenbach (DA) wished the Minister luck, saying that he is going to need it. Regarding the NPA looking into the mirror and checking whether they are clean, she said that it is clear to everybody that that is not the case. She asked the Minister to be clearer about his intentions regarding the NPA. It was a vital institution that was currently undergoing huge problems. The authority of the NDPP was constantly undermined by his senior management, but he could not address that as he had not appointed those senior managers. There has also been the problem of the Integrity Management Unit being disbanded for abusing its mandate, and its head being suspended, and she asked the Minister to comment on that. She also mentioned court decisions regarding the Deputy National Director, Advocate Jiba, Special Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Mrwebi, and the Deputy Director of Prosecutions in Gauteng, Mr Mzinyathi.
The Chairperson said that the Committee did not have enough time for all of Ms Breytenbach’s questions, reminding her that other MPs also have questions.
Minister Masutha said that since Ms Breytenbach comes form that institution, she would hopefully be able to share valuable information. The department had identified resolving the issues around the NDPP as the first priority in dealing with the broader issue of the management of the NPA, which has been widely publicised and was public knowledge. The department has reported that, by law, only the Office of the President can deal with the matter and that the department is merely there to support that office when required. As minister, he was not directly in charge of this matter. All he could tell the Committee was that the matter was in hand and that the National Prosecutor of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) himself was involved in a process with the Office of the Presidency to resolve the issues associated with his status and allegations relating thereto. It was only fair that the department dealt with one issue at a time. Once the issue had been resolved about the NDPP – and he did not want to give the impression that it will be resolved one way or another – all other matters to do with the management of the NPA would also be looked at. The department had to make sure that there was a well-functioning leadership that could fulfil its constitutional and statutory responsibilities fully. That institution had, by and large, worked very well and its performance levels had been very good. It had maintained clean audits and had constantly been improving in terms of service delivery. Whilst issues of leadership should be resolved, this should not detract from acknowledging the continued and unrelenting commitment to service being provided by the NPA to South Africa. When matters had reached a point where the department could update the public, it would gladly do so, but for now, internal processes should be allowed to run their course. The department had met with all senior managers and said that in the interest of maintaining stability in the institution, there should be a cessation of hostilities for the time being. Essentially, the department wanted to see collaboration. People should desist using the statutory powers that they have to take disciplinary action against certain people. People should stop approaching newspapers and saying all sorts of ugly things about each other. The department has not solicited any evidence or information that was out there and people should not provide information until the department asked for it. The department wanted to see stability and normalcy until such time as these matters were resolved. On the NDPP not honouring court judgments, the minister wanted to familiarise himself with the matters and only comment when he knew what the issues are, and if it was within his purview to comment. Sometimes, he is expected to comment on everything that seems to have something to do with him, when it does not. The non-honouring of court orders was an issue that arose especially in the Office of the State Attorney. Papers were issued, judgment was given, and sometimes one did not even know about it until it was in the newspapers. That was something the department really had to address. Two days after the minister took office, he heard from the media that there was a court order against him to make a decision on whether or not to release a certain Mr Eugene de Kock within 30 days. He had not seen a shred of court papers on his desk between the day he was appointed and the day that judgment was taken. The state attorney's office was there to service the whole of government and has a responsibility to provide a professional service. The issue of court papers being served and government departments only coming to know of it after judgment has been taken, could not continue. However, the minister undertook to make the decision required in terms of the judgment against him.
With regard to the budget, the Department of Public Works was often cited as a culprit when it came to public infrastructure and it was a difficult area. Hopefully, through close interaction, the two departments would be able to identify the blockages and resolve them. There is another relationship between the departments that arises, out of the work of the SIU, and the abuses happening there would be dealt with effectively. The department would vigorously pursue through the various agencies, including the SIU, all problems with supply chain and abuses of state resources. Certain things were not entirely within the hands of the department. The Minister wanted to leave other details to department officials with whom the Committee would be dealing over the next two days.
The Chairperson said that it was clear from the Minister’s answers that some of the questions were premature. The focus now was on the budget process.
Ms C Majake (ANC) appreciated the Minister’s comments about the ANC being the government of the day that appreciated the role of opposition to enrich its processes. Political parties have a mandate to create a united South Africa and put South Africa forward. They could not always hold similar views but it was important to remember the importance of developing and advancing the country. They should lead processes and not just create impressions. There were issues that were problematic because of the impressions that had been created. The Committee should focus on clean government and whatever happened, as an oversight structure, the Committee had to fight crime and corruption to allow both departments to fulfil their mandates.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) said that he wanted to emphasise that the approach of the Minister will make the Committee’s job easier.
Ms M Mathapo (ANC) concurred with Ms Majake and Mr Mpumlwana. As the ANC, they appreciate the approach of the Minister. The issue of rehabilitation and social reintegration is also highly appreciated.
Mr W Horn (DA) asked the minister about the Office of the Chief Justice, which had been set up a few years ago, and adding to issues already raised about the budget and the budget not having been raised in line with our previous requests. How did the minister see the role of the Office of the Chief Justice, specifically with regard to capacitation and funding? Secondly, he followed up on questions already raised about the NPA, and whilst fully appreciating that senior officials are both appointed and dismissed by the President, Mr Horn wanted to pick the minister's brain on the issue of whether NDPP issues could be fully divorced from the functioning of the NPA. The minister had referred to issues of accounting and reporting, and Mr Horn asked about the minister’s view of the role of this Committee in enforcing accountability of the NPA going forward.
Minister Masutha was not sure what the accountability of the NPA in this regard related to. In the Ginwala report, reference was made to oversight of the NPA without the department having to interfere in their independence. It is a complex area that needed to be further developed. Going forward, the department need to look at how to crystallise a common understanding of the mutual relationship there. He could not take it further than that. The NPA and its ability to discharge its responsibilities – those matters were in hand and were being dealt with, starting with the challenges relating to the head of the NPA. He believed that the department could not deal with lower levels of command without first resolving issues about the very top position. The best way to assist the process was to be patient and allow those processes to take their course. By law, the matter was currently in the executive sphere. By analogy, the Magistrate’s Commission and Judicial Services Commission would have the first bite at the issue involving a magistrate, and ultimately Parliament would make a final decision. It would be wrong in that context for Parliament to start engaging with a process that was still in progress. In a similar vein, the department should wait and see how the executive dealt with the issue. If necessary, Parliament would be at perfect liberty to deal with it.
On the issue of the Office of the Chief Justice, the Minister said that he had met with the Chief Justice to clarify the issue of the administration of courts and if it could be placed in the hands of the courts themselves. In the United States, courts are completely separate and they manage their own affairs, Anything that would assure our courts that they could exercise their responsibilities and mandate independently and efficiently, would be supported. If they felt that the best way to do that is to be in charge of their own administration and resources, that was fine. The department still had a duty to support the administration of courts because the budget had not yet been transferred. A CEO or Accounting Officer had been established and the department had been in the process of the takeover of that office. The department would not abdicate political responsibility to ensure that courts were well resourced to do their work. The Minister sat in Cabinet and the National Assembly, but the Chief Justice did not. Generally we do not expect our courts to be fighting political battles to get better resources and other things. That was the responsibility of politicians, who would continue to champion their cause so that they could do their work.
Ms G Breytenbach (DA) asked about the position of the interpreters. There had been problems with interpreters, there needed to be a training facility for interpreters and their position needed to be treated a lot more professionally. She asked for the Minister’s view in that regard.
Mr J Selfe (DA) absolutely understood the Minister’s reluctance to give an opinion on a court case that he has not seen the files of, but reminded him that in terms of section 32 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act, he was entitled to obtain a report from an NPA about any court case, and asked him to obtain that report and lay it before the Committee.
Ms C Majake (ANC) noted the response of the Minister about the Office of the Chief Justice and the budget vote, and close monitoring because of the issue of the separation of powers and accountability in that regard.
The Chairperson said that the source of the problems they faced appeared to be the socio-economic conditions of the people living in this country and the legacy of Apartheid. The Committee should pay some attention to the campaigns that have been developed to address that.
The Minister said that he had met with a faith-based organisation in Limpopo that worked with the DCS and provided services to inmates. He looked forward to engaging with faith-based organisations that could assist inmates, provide spiritual services and help inmates to make a contribution to social transformation. Maybe one of the things the department should be doing was using offenders themselves to change the mindset of the youth, visiting schools and showing them that it can be cool not to do crime. Prevention was better than cure. Ms Majake was correct in that the last thing the department would want, in the first year after the Office of the Chief Justice assumed autonomy over its budget and administration, would be for it not to get a clear audit. The department wanted to make sure that the transition was as smooth as possible to avoid this. The Minister was sure that the opposition did not look forward to celebrating the failure of the government of the day. The Minister could certainly look at section 32 of the NPA Act, but everything had to be interpreted in context. He did not approach law in a mechanistic way but in a purposive way. In terms of how that section can assist us, he would look at whether the department had a specific role to play there.
With regard to interpreters, the Minister had once witnessed a situation in which an accused was acquitted in a homeland high court because an interpreter had said in one instance that the accused had brought a bottle half full of beer, and later said that the bottle was half full of whiskey. In Venda, alcohol and beer were the same word. The interpreter did not misinterpret, but was misinterpreted. The judge said that the witness was not credible because he had given conflicting versions. Because all the people in court were white, they did not understand an indigenous language, and nobody challenged that. The family was upset. The department had to look at the critical role that interpreters play and it could make the difference in whether a case goes left or right. If training was right, the interpreter could have pointed out that something was missing. The department had to make sure that some of the long-standing gripes that our indigenous communities have had, are addressed. Why was it that our legal system is essentially Roman-Dutch law when a significant part of our population have their own African customary law? There were also Muslims who respect their own legal dispensations. This was one of the issues that would be looked at in this administration. Customary law and common law are law only to the extent that they are consistent with the Constitution. For those who live those systems, that must be given full expression. Where they were in conflict with the Constitution, they should be revisited.
The Chairperson pointed out that when some of the members of the Committee studied law, it was compulsory to study Afrikaans and Latin to understand the law fully. Today’s lawyers could not understand the law fully or the people that they served unless at least they knew one indigenous African language. Also, the Committee should welcome the Minister's proposal to work with other ministries, because there were many ex-offenders who had skills that were needed in communities and were not being utilised.
Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services: Budget and financial constraints
Mr Michael Masondo, Acting CEO of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, said that the purpose of the presentation was to brief the committee about the office of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) and to discuss its 2014/2015 budget allocation, the challenges it faced and the recommendations it had.
The JICS was an independent office under the control of the Inspecting Judge, with its head office in Cape Town. Mr Masondo discussed its statutory mandate and how its structure had changed in 2012 by approval from the former Minister of Correctional Services. It had three directorates.
The work of the JICS was now divided into four management regions, namely the Northern Management Region (Centurion), the Eastern Management Region (Durban); The Central Management Region (Bloemfontein); and the Southern Management Region (George). The JICS wanted to expand again, because the DCS has six regions, so the people working in these four regions were overworked and had to cater for more than one region. Many of the sub directorate posts for directors were vacant. Mr Masondo outlined the JICS strategic objectives and explained how the Independent Correctional Centre Visitor (ICCV) process works. The ICCVs conducted regular site visits, interviewed inmates, and monitored complaints registers. If a complaint was not resolved by the ICCV in consultation with the inmate, it was escalated to the Visitor's Committee, which consisted of members of the community and the South African Police Service (SAPS). If it was still not resolved, it was dealt with at Head Office. In terms of the Correctional Services Act, the Heads of Correctional Centres must report deaths, segregations, the use of mechanical restraints and the use of force to the Inspectorate. It compiles monthly, quarterly and annual reports, which are submitted to the President and tabled in Parliament. ICCVs are nominated by community organisations.
The budget allocation of R44 668 000 for the 2014/2015 financial year was insufficient to meet the needs of JICS to fund the newly approved post-establishment structure. The Inspectorate was in constant discussion with the DCS about its budget and JICS requested to be considered during the September 2014 budget adjustment. Another challenge it faced was not being able to make appointments in terms of the new structure because it was still waiting for the department to create posts on the Personal and Salary System (PERSAL). Approximately 46% of its staff were on contract and as of 31 March it had only 45 permanent employees. It was in discussions with the DCS about involving JICS in the allocation of budget. It requested that the Committee finalise debate on the independence of the Inspectorate, which was started by the previous Committee. Its request was to be a separate government component reporting to the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services. It requested the Committee to amend sections 88 and 91 of the Correctional Services Act. It was also facing challenges in property procurement for expansion. The JICS thus requested that the Committee place the following topics on its agenda: funding of the Inspectorate, creation of posts on PERSAL, property procurement, job evaluation and the issue of the Inspectorate becoming a government component reporting to the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) said that the nub of the presentation was about budgetary constraints and the location of the inspectorate. He asked if the previous portfolio committee had raised the budget concerns in its budget review process, and what the outcome of that was. He asked if JICS had direct consultations with the National Treasury, or whether it had to work through the department, and to what degree the Committee could help. At one stage, there had been discussions with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). He asked if JICS had considered implementing a similar model to that one. The IPID had its own budget and strong investigative powers, so it would be useful to look at that model. His biggest concern was the budget, and that JICS had to work through the department.
Mr J Selfe (DA) replied that the previous portfolio committee did consider this at some length and called for strengthened reporting by JICS. He recommended that this issue be tabled before the Committee again. However, he was not sure about JICS becoming a government entity reporting to the Department of Justice and Correctional Services. Some of the debate that had arisen concerned the independence of the institution and its ability to do its job without fear or favour. In essence, what did it mean to “report to”? Did it mean that JICS operated independently? He asked if JICS could cooperate with correctional centres and yet monitor what they did. He asked what JICS would like its structure to be, in a perfect world, in order to give life to its mandate?
Mr V Smith (ANC) pointed out the constitutional right to dignity as part of JICS mandate and asked how different this was to the mandate of the Human Rights Commission. The issue had been raised the last time and there was a need to ask whether there was a need for two entities to do the same thing, or whether there could be incorporation or merging. He did not believe that JICS could be independent if it was dependent on the department for its budget. As part of its plans, JICS wanted one ICCV per correctional centre. However, in Johannesburg, there were in excess of 6,000 inmates. One ICCV could never service 6,000 people, and in other correctional centres it would be the same. He suggested that this should be revisited.
Ms C Majake (ANC) said that the issue of independence needed to be debated and that there was a need to avoid having duplicating structures. Whatever the outcome, that issue had to be addressed. She asked Mr Masondo to indicate why there was such a high vacancy rate, reminding him that South Africa has a problem with job creation. She would support the idea of expansion into other provinces. Having offices only in four provinces placed a burden on those people. She asked if the ICCVs were paid, or whether they were volunteers. In terms of its mandate, JICS had to inspect the prisons but it had not given the Committee information on the inspection outcomes and how its complaints are dealt with.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) said that the services of JICS were essential. Prisons had historically been a place of oppression and we want to make them fit for a human being to live in. He understood that the ICCV would discuss complaints with the head of prisons, and asked what effect that would have, and asked if the ICCV was respected by the heads of prisons. The heads of prisons were supposed to get complaints from prisoners, so he did not know how effective it was for the head of prisons and for the ICCV to go and get complaints and then to discuss them. If the head of prisons had ignored the complaints, what effect did the ICCV have? If JICS was reporting to the area commissioner, it might be better that way. Secondly, he wanted further explanation of the changes that JICS wanted the Committee to make to the Act and what effect they would have. Thirdly, he asked if the approach of JICS was a question of negotiation, and whether it was saying that perhaps people were just not aware of the problem. He asked Mr Masondo to explain what assistance JICS needed from the Committee, with regard to specific sections.
Ms M Mathapo (ANC) referred to the post-establishment structure approved in 2012, and asked Mr Masondo to unpack the number of posts filled and unfilled, and break that down in terms of gender.
The Chairperson said that the Committee wanted to check the representivity of the community organisations from whom JICS appointed the ICCVs. It may have been a question of a bad law that was made and the Committee asking JICS to answer questions that it should have answered in the legislation. If the law did not give the inspectorate independence, the Committee needed to deal with that.
Mr Masondo referred to section 88 and section 91, which dealt with JICS receiving funds from the department. The JICS wanted to receive funds straight from Treasury. The ICCVs were paid per hour that they work. They were independent people and upon completion of their duties, they submitted a claim. On having one ICCV per centre, JICS was guided by the population of the centre. On the question of the ICCV discussing complaints with the Head of the Correctional Centres (HCCs) and collecting complaints, he explained that the modus operandi was that when the ICCVs had discussed a complaint with the inmate, they went to the HCC, who sat down with the ICCV and tried to resolve it. If the complaint was not resolved, and the HCC elected to ignore the complaint, it would be escalated to the VC Committee, and the Office of the Inspecting Judge in turn, where the final decision would be taken. On the question about the previous Portfolio Committee, Mr Selfe had answered that. As to JICS model compared to the IPID model, there had been some deliberations with the previous Portfolio Committee on this. The ideal would be for JICS to move out of the department.
Mr Umesh Raga, National Manager: Legal Services, Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, referred to the question of how effective JICS was. Broadly speaking, in terms of the powers of the Inspecting Judge, JICS did not have final and binding powers. The JICS would inspect all the correctional centres around the country, then identify transgressions of basic human conditions, and file a report. That report was communicated to the department and the Minister, and the rectification thereof was dependent on the bona fides of the department to rectify issues such as a lack of running water, unlawful transfer of inmates, etc. The power that JICS had was to make a recommendation to the department to change. Similarly with complaints, it had a two-tier system.
On the number of ICCVs per centre, Mr Raga said that JICS wanted to have a minimum of one per centre, but that some centres have up to 4 ICCVs. He took the Committee into the day-to-day processes by explaining that all inmates have the right to lodge a complaint and/or lodge a request with the HCC. In the majority of cases, these were resolved in dialogue with the ICCV. It was like a conciliation process. If the issue was serious, such as an assault, or extremely ill inmates, those matters did not follow the normal process and were immediately reported to legal services at JICS Head Office. Again, JICS could only make recommendations, in terms of the Act. However, the Inspecting Judge does have the power to inquire into any death in a prison. If an inmate was segregated, for whatever reason, perhaps because they had requested it or it was required for another reason, that inmate had the right to appeal to the Inspecting Judge and the decision regarding what happened to that inmate was final. Where an inmate was mechanically restrained, and he had a complaint, the Office of the Inspecting Judge had the final decision. Mr Raga’s intention was to take the Committee through the provisions and how JICS related to them. It was a reporting body and its view was that its powers appeared to be fine. Final and binding powers would have created a different debate about enforceability. What was very important was that the Committee could get a feel for what JICS did by reading its annual report [see report]. This would allow the Committee to get a sense of what type of conditions and treatment existed in prisons. More importantly, at every quarter, JICS took the department into its confidence and talked in more detail about what it had found, whether the department had complied or not. The quarterly reports would give a sense of the type of complaints it dealt with, where inspections and investigations had been done and what the priority areas were. The question of independence had been raised on a number of occasions without fruition. It was indisputable that there should be prison oversight. On the debate about whether JICS should be subsumed by the Human Rights Commission, this was a debate for the longer term. He pointed out there is engagement between JICS and the SAHRC, but that the SAHRC did not focus on prison rights and prison law to the extent that might have been perceived. On the question of independence and the reliance on the department for budget and for appointments, he reiterated that JICS is unable to create a post on PERSAL without the department assisting it. In that sense, in as much as a budget was allocated, it was reliant on an administrative process with the department. This was part of the frustration. The JICS had been speaking to the department for a long time on this issue. The question that was raised in the previous Parliament was that whilst JICS is reliant on the department for budget and administration, a little more dialogue needed to be had about practicalities and the frustrations of staff. This was necessary for the achievement of its strategic objectives.
Ms C Majake (ANC) said that it was important to talk about any systemic issues, and moving forward, it would be good when JICS made a presentation to give the Committee information of that nature.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) asked how much money would be sufficient. The JICS seemed to be saying that it was somehow in a corner, but it did not say how it needed to be liberated. There was no clear answer on whether they wanted to be part of the Human Rights Commission or a semi-independent part of the department.
The Chairperson's reading of the situation was that the law had created the situation in which JICS was, and that perhaps the Committee should also hear from Mr Zach Modise, the Acting Commissioner of the DCS.
Mr Zach Modise, DCS Acting National Commissioner, said he knew the complaints that the inspectorate had about its capacity and appointments. He asked what could be done about sections 88 and 91. Primarily, that was what JICS was having problems with. It wanted to have its own budget and be independent, like the IPID. Once that was done, the majority of complaints would be laid to rest. The department had requested that it should be given time to sit down with JICS and find what possible stumbling blocks there would be to prevent their complaints being resolved. All of the recommendations, barring sections 88 and 91, could be attained. The department and JICS could sit down and craft solutions and would request that it be given an opportunity to engage with the office of the Inspecting Judge. This issue of the independence and budget had been coming for a number of years,
The Chairperson saw that there was a clear willingness on the part of the department to engage on this, and said that the Committee should avoid endless restructuring. This term, the Committee really had to deliver to its people and not waste time. He urged the department and JICS to sit down and see what they could put together. If the problem was the legislation, then something could be done about that.
DCS Presentation on the 2014/2015 Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan
Mr Zach Modise, Acting National Commissioner of DCS, said that the delegation was led by Chief Deputy Commissioners Ms Nandi Mareka, Mr Terence Raseroka, Mr Teboho Mokoena, Ms Britta Rotmann, Ms Pumla Mathibela, Dr Joey Coetzee, and Ms Nthabiseng Mosupye. The purpose of the presentation was to present the annual performance plan, which was in line with the mandate of the current administration. The DCS valued the oversight of the Committee and it had interaction with its Minister and Deputy Minister on the presentation.
Mr Terence Raseroka, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Strategic Management for the DCS, said that the strategic plan had different parts as prescribed by National Treasury. He would give an overview of the building blocks of the plan, as well as the value system that drove the way in which the department does business. He would clarify the mandate of the department and discuss elements of the situational analysis that the department undertook to create the basis for the current plans. The department's strategy consisted of Parts A (vision, mission, values, legislative mandate, situational analysis and outcome-oriented goals), Part B (strategic performance elements, resource considerations and risk management) and Part C (links to other plans) and the Annual Performance Plan. The department had identified eight values that should be internalised and drive people within the organisation. It had a discussion with the minister and deputy minister on Monday and they had raised critical issues that they wanted the department to reflect upon. The Minister's concern about the first value, that of development, was that the department was inward-looking, and that it should also look outwards to society. The other values were integrity, effectiveness, equity, accountability, justice, security, and Ubuntu. The department greatly valued the critical element of Ubuntu because it was dealing with souls, and changing souls and behaviour among themselves and among offenders, so Ubuntu should be the core value to assist them in driving their business.
Mr Raseroka took the Committee through its legislative framework. The situational analysis covered the key areas of performance, organisational environment and the strategic planning process. The external elements that affect performance and the organisational environment were outlined. The strategic planning process involved engagement at different levels and forums from 2013 and early 2014, and was informed by the outputs of the National Development Plan, which the department regarded as the most critical policy in the country. The plans were linked to the broader government planning framework. The department took its cue from the ANC election manifesto, focusing on the fight against crime and corruption. It looked at the 14 government outcomes and in this new administration, it would focus on outcome 3, namely that all people in South Africa should be and feel safe, as well as outcome 13 (social protection) and 14 (nation building and social cohesion). The department particularly wanted to decrease the number of parolees who violated their parole conditions. He emphasised decreasing recidivism and parole violations, as well as the NDP’s outcomes on health, education, social cohesion, fighting corruption and positioning South Africa in the world. The plan incorporated the minister's instructions to look at prevention and management of HIV and related illnesses. The DCS has chaired the African Correctional Services Association (ACSA) and has been instrumental in providing the necessary support to other countries. The department was committed to three core functions: ensuring an effective justice system, protecting society through incarceration and rehabilitation, and reintegrating offenders as law abiding citizens. There were five budget programmes: Administration, Incarceration, Rehabilitation, Care and Social Reintegration. Each budget programme's purpose, strategic objectives, baseline, justification, and links to the NDP outcomes were outlined for the Committee. The strategic plan was also aligned with other DCS plans.
Mr S Swart was concerned about the time, and suggested that the document be regarded as read, and the Committee needed to get to the finance issues.
The Chairperson said that the Committee should take the document as read.
Mr Selfe said that in contrast to some of the other strategic plans that have been developed, this one contained core values and he was pleased about that. However, if those are the values, he did not believe that DCS has them at the moment and that organisational values needed to be driven down to all 42 000 employees. He did not believe that all employees are filled with the desire to develop people, disassociate themselves from corruption, etc. Unless they were made real to the people at the coalface, the strategic plan was not going to work and that responsibility lay with management. The presentation showed that about 103 officials were dismissed, but this represented only 0.26% of the department, and he did not think this was good enough. Every year, the Committee saw that hundreds of cases were investigated but that most of them were settled or just disappear. There were only 64% of people with “correctional sentence plans being completed”. These plans were given to people with sentences of more than two years. That percentage drops to 39% when considering everyone in correctional centres. This situation bred criminality. The Committee had had this argument before and there needed to be a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and social reintegration.
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that this was the Fifth Parliament and that if we dug out the past, we would not be able to move forward. The Committee should look at the plan and whether or not it could take us forward, and then start monitoring.
Mr Selfe remarked that those people who do not learn from history were doomed to repeat it.
The Chairperson accepted that but said that the Committee should give the department a chance to implement their plan.
Mr Smith referred to the capture of inmate information and identification being core to security. According to the performance targets, those things were only going to be finalised in 2017/2019, which is 24 years after democracy. Those dates had to be brought closer. We could not afford another five years of getting a system to do what it was supposed to be doing. His second point was about remand detention. The strategic plan talked only about finalising policy, and Mr Smith would have expected policy should have been developed. He was not sure that DCS would be able to deliver on its targets where other departments were involved, such as issues of health. He proposed that until those things were finalised at a political level, the department was setting itself up for failure. He noted that overcrowding was exacerbated by discarding the building of new facilities. This was service delivery denied.
The Chairperson emphasised the different experiences of members and said that in pooling those experiences, proposals could be made.
Ms Tshabalala agreed with Mr Smith that health lay outside of correctional services, but wanted to vote for their budget with a clean conscience. HIV was infectious but was not the number one killing disease and she wanted to caution the department against prioritising it just because of pressure groups. She pointed out that diabetes is the number one killer in the world and that a programme should address all life-threatening diseases.
Ms Majake referred to the improvement of the IT system within the prisons. She was not sure whether the department was improving the system or creating it from scratch. The prisons she had visited had good systems. This far into democracy, the department should not be talking about doing things five years from now; it needed to have the IT system in prisons in order. The tax system in the country was improved overnight because of the IT system, and DCS could do the same thing. She asked at what point the department comes to learn of an inmate’s HIV status, and whether they were coming into prison with it or getting infected in the cells. If it was the latter, it needed to be prevented. With regard to remand, the department needed to roll out the plan that existed already, so that it could be an extension of what has been done before. The presentations in future should include data on prison populations and the crime situation.
Ms Tshabalala referred to outcome 3, namely “building safer communities” and pointed out that while its contribution is listed in the figures of incarceration, the department should include rehabilitation there.
Mr Horn referred to Programme 4 Rehabilitation. This linked to what Mr Smith said about setting oneself up for failure. Programme 2’s budget only increased by 8%, but with education, the department was aiming for a massive increase. He thought that their targets were stretched far beyond what could be realistically achieved.
The Chairperson pointed out that the majority of people in these correctional centres were youth who are entitled to education.
Ms Majake asked the department to address the vacancy rate.
Ms Pumla Mathibela, Chief Deputy Commissioner, Community Corrections, Department of Correctional Services, responded to the question from Mr Selfe regarding positions for social reintegration and case load. Community corrections was a fairly new branch established in 2012. The case load changed daily, but was currently standing at 67 743, broken down into 48 716 parolees, 17 096 probationers and 1 931 awaiting trial detainees. The department was in the process of finalising the newly created branch so that it could have enough human resources.
Dr Joey Coetzee, DCS Chief Deputy Commissioner, Operations, appearing on behalf of Mr James Smalberger, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Incarceration and Corrections, also responded to Mr Selfe's comments in terms of correctional programs. Perhaps there was a misinterpretation, but the target indicated 64% completion of correctional programs – this figure referred to those offenders who complete their programs, and this did not mean that others did not have correctional sentence plans.
Ms Britta Rotmann, DCS Chief Deputy Commissioner: Remand Detention, replied to questions on remand detention, saying the department had presented the White Paper on Remand Detention at the end of the previous financial year. It was not a complete turnaround of policy, it took its mandate from the Child Justice Act. The department was not simply creating new policy, it was drilling down into the policy in the White Paper. The department had already started implementing what it was obliged to in terms of various legislation. The remand detention uniform, for example, was planned for this year.
Ms Nthabiseng Mosupye, DCS Chief Deputy Commissioner: Government Information Technology Office, responded about IT. She took note of the timeline, but pointed out that it was influenced by the almost 50 legacy systems that existed and needed to be integrated. The department took cognisance of main systems that would be in place before five years had passed. Within the next two years, the department would definitely have the full admission, release and rehabilitation technology in place and was definitely improving on existing systems.
Dr Coetzee addressed education and training, as well as health. These targets were set as a department based on the resources that it had. Bearing in mind the number of qualified educators it had, offenders working as facilitators, and other resources, the department had set the targets. On the increase in budget for education referred to by Mr Horn, the department took the previous year's performance and saw that it could increase that by 10%, so the target for 2014/2015 was based on that. On questions on health, the department had programmes for people infected with TB and other diseases. The department did not test offenders on admission, but it encouraged offenders to be tested. On admission, it provided health assessment and treatment.
Mr Teboho Mokoena, DCS Chief Deputy Commissioner: Human Resources, referred to the filling of vacancies. The department was rated third in filling vacancies compared with other departments in a 2013 study. The department faced challenges in retaining skilled staff and this contributed to the vacancy rate of over 5%. Interventions put in place included decentralising recruitment and regarding the filling of vacancies as a key performance indicator for all line managers. Recruitment is tedious and time-consuming, but the department has the capacity to recruit. Other interventions that were being looked at were partnerships with FET colleges put in place and absorb learners into entry-level positions. The department needed to examine the impact of the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) in terms of the department’s ability to attract and retain professional skills, particularly people with scarce skills such as psychologists, engineers and social workers. Other departments in government had the same issue.
The Chairperson said that it was important that persons on the ground dealing with these things come up with proposals that the Commitee can use. He asked how many halfway houses there were, whether the department had the resources to build them, and whether the department had rehabilitation and counselling centres. He thought that these institutions could prevent re-offending.
Ms Mathibela replied that the department partnered with NGOs which administered them, but DCS did not run them. There were six halfway houses across the country. They were for people who are due for parole consideration but who did not have support systems. The houses are run according to the correction plans of offenders. The NPOs bring in other organisations.
The Chairperson asked if this could be linked to what the Minister said about faith-based organisations.
Ms Nandi Mareka, DCS Acting Chief Financial Officer, said that in the current baseline, there was a great deal of funds going to the creation of facilities and the rehabilitation of existing facilities and creation of more bed spaces. A feasibility study indicated that a large number of smaller centres was preferable to large centres. Currently the department plans to create 18 centres and 11 remand detention centres. There was engagement with the Department of Public Works and National Treasury in this regard.
The Chairperson asked how long it would take to build these 18 facilities.
Mr Smith wanted to ask the same question. He did not think that 18 facilities was feasible. He referred to the Leeuwkop facility and the Pretoria Central facility, which were pre-Apartheid facilities. At the Leeuwkop facility, inmates eat outside on the soccer field. Now Ms Mareka is saying that they must do feasibility studies. The term would come to an end and the inmates would still be eating outside if it took five years to move juveniles form Leeuwkop and five years to move females from Pretoria. His request was that the Committee needed to debate the urgency of rehabilitating these centres.
The Chairperson asked who did the feasibility study.
Ms Mareka replied that the Department of Higher Education had a contract for the revamping of colleges, and the department had requested it participate in one of the studies.
The Chairperson suggested that the department should also address its relationship with the Department of Public Works, because it had its own challenges that would impact on the DCS.
Mr Selfe was very interested in the feasibility study process. He had asked a question of the Department of Public Works recently about a study undertaken into Pollsmoor and Leeuwkop, and he wanted to know what that feasibility study involved and the basis on which it was commissioned.
Ms Majake referred to the answer regarding IT, and her concern was the five years it would take to modernise the prison IT system. The response seems to have been simply to endorse that it will take five years, but she felt that it could be done more quickly. She suggested getting a good service provider. In terms of HR systems, she asked if the department had a skills development plan in place that matched the kind of abilities required within the department.
The Chairperson said that there seemed to be some bottlenecks that caused the delay. Some might not be of their making. The Committee needed to look at the procurement system and legislation. Members are right to be concerned that what they are planning now will only be done in five years, then the Sixth Parliament would get another story for another plan to be done in another five years.
Dr Coetzee pointed out the involvement of NGOs in elements other than halfway houses, such as psychological and spiritual services. Some came in with their own funding and others needed funding, but the point was that organisations were assisting in various ways.
The Chairperson said that this is a multicultural country, and that people should receive spiritual care not just from the Christian or Muslim side, but across the board, including African religions.
Mr B Bongo (ANC) remarked that the Committee needed to attend to the bottlenecks and do some oversight especially about the procurement system. There are gaps that need to be moved into with speed. He also said that the DCS needed to align itself to the justice department.
Department of Correctional Services 2014/2015 Estimates of National Expenditure
Ms Nandi Mareka, Acting Chief Financial Officer, indicated that the DCS had five budget programmes, namely Administration, Incarceration, Rehabilitation, Care and Social Integration. What had been fundamental to the preparation of the 2014 budget were spending ceilings, reprioritisation within the MTEF baseline, an emphasis on spending efficiency and effectiveness, an inflation adjustment, an inflation forecast, and inflation outcomes being absorbed within the budget baseline. The inflation for food and fuel had to be accounted for and the department could not approach the Treasury in this regard. DCS’s main cost drivers were the inmate population, supervision cases and officials. The budget for 2013/14 was used as a baseline to project these cost drivers. There were 42 006 funded posts and 2 057 additional posts, which were for the absorption of learners as contract employees. In March 2014, 2 292 posts were vacant. The vacancy rate would be addressed through decentralisation of recruitment processes and partnerships with FET colleges, and the absorption of learners. The budget for the department in 2014/25 was R19 721
ion, projected to increase over the MTEF to R20 795
ion in 2015/16 and to reach R22 081
ion in 2016/17 at an average growth of 5.6%.
Large amounts for non-core goods and services were reprioritised for spending on the rollout of electronic monitoring, security equipment, the implementation of victim-offender dialogues (VOD) and the replacement of dilapidated workshop and agricultural machinery. On MTEF allocations, earmarked funds included the devolution of funds from the Department of Public Works. The ENE allocations per programme were discussed, with the Incarceration programme taking up the biggest chunk. The bulk of spending in this programme went towards the compensation of employees, followed by goods and services, transfers, and payment for capital assets. Ms Mareka provided summaries and graphic overviews of the ENE allocations per economic classification and per sub-programme. The allocation per region and per programme was discussed. The bulk of allocation per region went to the Head Office. This was due to the centralised allocation of staff accommodation, property payments, etc.
Mr Swart appreciated the financial constraints that the department was working under. But the Committee had to look at the concerns that were raised by the previous committee, namely that the internal audit committee was under-resourced and managed by an external service provider. That was a matter of concern. He wanted to find out what the status was of the internal audit committee and to what degree there had been an improvement in the Auditor General’s report, where there had been qualified audits for the past while. It was noteworthy that the previous committee stated in its last report that an urgent intervention was required to ensure that combined efforts to create a correctional environment based on good governance and the rehabilitation was necessary. He wanted to know if proper risk assessment processes were in place.
Mr Selfe referred to the pilot project with electronic monitoring. This was indicated in the budget, as well as payments to a contractor. He was not aware that a contract had been awarded, and asked Ms Mareka to shed light on that contract and to whom it had been awarded. There was also R22.6 million allocated to security equipment, and he asked Ms Mareka to shed light on that.
Ms Tshabalala said that the amount spent on rehabilitation in the total budget was still a far cry from what it should be. The objective of DCS was not just incarceration. This linked to the amount that was spent on victim-offender dialogues. She thought it indicated that rehabilitation was still a problem, and said that under the current situation of overcrowding, rehabilitation was immensely difficult, and that perhaps overcrowding should be a funded objective.
Ms Majake pointed out that at the end of 2013/14, the department had already overspent on the Care programme and asked if the department had put any measures in place to prevent this from happening again. The figures were rocketing, and there were no proceeds, the money came from government. She was interested to understand more about the amount of money going to the Department of Public Works and the money spent on employees.
The Chairperson pointed out that there were many farms and dilapidated buildings that were state-owned, and there was a huge demand for agricultural products, hospitals, schools, etc. and asked if it was possible that the department could see itself as a business. The department could take state farms, register them as co-operatives, put released ex-offenders on the farms to produce food and make money to address shortfalls. It may be necessary to take that direction.
Ms Mareka replied that on the Legacy Report comment about the internal audit, the view of the members was correct. The DCS did have challenges and had started to engage on increasing the capacity of the internal audit. Currently, the department had a contract with a consortium, but was looking at creating internal capacity. There were engagements between HR and finance about re-engineering the entire component. A small portion needed to be left for specialist services such as IT and a review process on a quarterly basis. One critical aspect was how to retain those skills. On the issue of risk management, the department fully agreed that there had been a gap and it was one area that it had started to address but in the past financial year there was not any visible improvement. For the first time, the department had a chairperson from outside who was clued up about the risk management process. From the work that he has already done in other departments, the department felt it should be able to make some inroads with risk management. There were quarterly assessments and meetings between the accounting officer, the CFO and the Auditor General. At a policy level, the Auditor General had constantly rated the department in the past financial year as “green”. During December and January, all managers went to all the facilities to start counting each and every asset, to check the documentation, and to dispose of assets that needed to be disposed of. There were two sides to it. Some assets were repaired. The department had requested a more proactive audit from the Auditor General and had engaged with the National Treasury on inventory management.
In response to Mr Selfe’s question, Ms Mareka said that the tender for the electronic monitoring devices was awarded on 25 May 2014 to Engineering Systems Solutions (Pty) Ltd. It was for a period of five years, beginning in July 2014. On the increased procurement of security devices, she said that this referred to arms and body scanning equipment.
On the question on the Rehabilitation programme allocation, she agreed that the Incarceration programme took the biggest chunk, not that the department was saying that rehabilitation was of lesser importance, but it cannot at the same time rearrange the security aspect. For purposes of rehabilitation, the department had partnered with external NGOs and that did not get reflected in the budget. The department had quality-assured the programmes of those NGOs and currently, on its database, there were 25 NGOs that offered rehabilitation programmes. Another aspect was that the department did not get funds from the National Skills Fund for developing offenders. The DCS had a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Higher Education for access to their National Skills Development Fund. There were many things such as this that did not get reflected. The department needed to strengthen those strategic relationships. The rehabilitation programme was a labour-intensive one. It was one area of spiritual services, which was not only Christian-based and again, the department partnered with many organisations across the country. Those services were better spread than other correctional programmes. On the issue of victim-offender dialogue (VOD) allocation, she said that if one looked at the 2012/13 financial year, that was when the department started looking at VOD and refocused itself based on the White Paper. VODs were not a condition of parole, but it facilitated that process while offenders were inside the facilities, and it utilised the department’s own psychologists and social workers.
On the overspending on the Care programme, Ms Mareka said that measures had been put in place to cater for that, but that she could not say that it would not happen again.
On the property payments issue, Ms Mareka said that all government buildings belong to the Department of Public Works. For all facilities, DCS paid the Department of Public Works some kind of rent for those facilities. That money was meant to be utilised to renovate and maintain those facilities. The department did not have any leeway to decrease that funding.
The Chairperson said that Ms Mareka’s responses convinced him that it was necessary to learn from the past, but perhaps just to inform a turnaround strategy.
Mr Zach Modise, Acting National Commissioner, appreciated the opportunity to address members of the committee and assured them that their concerns and questions had been recorded and would be attended to, and in their next engagement, DCS would indicate what they had put in place. A lot of significant work had been done by the previous commissioner, with the assistance of Treasury and it is for him to find out how far that went and what bottlenecks exist. The DCS had challenges of not having enough hands and feet to do its work, as well as corruption, and it did not have the strength to do what it would like. He assured the Committee that, as it moved on, it planned to indicate how many officials it would need. The DCS looked forward to meeting with the Committee again and provide the answers it could not provide today.
The Chairperson concluded by saying that 75% of our population was 35 years old and below, and that a large part of this population was in correctional centres. There would be serious problems if these people could not be developed. Correctional centres must be centres of excellence, and when offenders come out, they must not go into the vacuum. This must be made a societal matter, and those young people must be turned into productive citizens. The reports received by the Committee were very encouraging, and there could be a turnaround strategy in place to take South Africa forward.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
- PC Justice: Votes 21 and 24: Briefing by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services (political overview) 2
- PC Justice: Minister of Justice & Correctional Services overview; Judicial Inspectorate on its budget & financial constraint 3
- PC Justice: Minister of Justice & Correctional Services overview; Judicial Inspectorate on its budget & financial constraint 1
- PC Justice: Votes 21 and 24: Briefing by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services (political overview) 3
- PC Justice: Votes 21 and 24: Briefing by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services (political overview) 1
- PC Justice: Minister of Justice & Correctional Services overview; Judicial Inspectorate on its budget & financial constraint 2
- Department of Correctional Services 2014 Estimates of National Expenditure
- Department of Correctional Services presentation on 2014 Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan
- Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) presentation: budget allocation & financial constraints
- Annual Report of the Inspecting Judge of Prisons
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