Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services 2013/14 Annual Report: Research Analysis & Stakeholder Hearings

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Justice and Correctional Services

14 October 2014
Chairperson: Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee Researcher gave a briefing on the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services 2013/14 Annual Report to assist the Portfolio Committee in its oversight. The mission of the JICS includes prevention of human rights violations through the monitoring of mandatory reporting systems, the maintenance of an independent complaints system and the promotion of transparency.

The key success JICS recorded was a substantial decrease in the number of disciplinary matters from 12 in 2012/13 to 2 in 2013/14. The key challenges documented were: 46% of the employees of the Inspectorate are contract staff, there was a lack of commitment to fund the new post establishment by the Department of Correctional Services, there had been over-spending of the budget by R5 million in 2013/14, the challenge of the allocation of the office space by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the decrease in the number of females employed by the Inspectorate from 52% in 2012/13 to 46% in 2013/14. The budget allocation for JICS was R31 666 600 representing 0.17% of DCS budget and final expenditure was R36 780 635.30, as opposed to R31 321 506.67 in 2012/13. The dependence of JICS on DCS systems was also of utmost concern as this dependence may hinder the autonomy of the JICS.

The composition of inmates found in correctional centres was noted: the total number of sentenced inmates was 110 412 as against 104 670 in 2012/13 with Children - 235, Juveniles – 26 810 and Females – 2 235. A total of 44 236 were in remand homes with Children – 181, Juveniles – 18 046 and Females - 663. There were 91 inspections of correctional centres. A total of 20 investigations were conducted compared to 39 in 2012/13 and a number of centres were investigated due to allegations of serious assaults by an Emergency Support Team (EST). The Complaints Unit of the Inspectorate received 1 115 complaints from various sources, with most complaints relating to transfers (243), other (181) parole (115) assaults on inmates by officials (109). Total number of unnatural deaths was 46 compared to 57 in 2012/13. There were 588 natural deaths as opposed to  652 in 2012/13. 8 397 cases of segregation were reported as against 7 493 in 2012/13. 271 mechanical restraints reports were received by the Inspectorate as opposed to 207 in 2012/13 and 191 cases of use of force by officials on inmates had been recorded compared to 83 in 2012/13.
The Committee Researcher emphasised that since the Inspectorate relied on the Department to submit reports on segregation and mechanical restraints, there should be a way in which the Inspectorate could verify if the figures in the DCS reports were accurate or not.

The ratio of ICCVs to inmates is currently 1:536 based on 288 filled posts. It is essential that the target for ICCVs per month be ascertained. 450 916 requests and complaints were dealt with by the ICCVs in 2013/14. The majority of complaints related to lack of communication with families (68 352); transfers (60 083); health care (52 647) and bail (46 301). The Committee Researcher said information was missing on the outcomes of these complaints and how ICCVs influenced the outcomes of these requests and complaints. The funding of the Inspectorate should be looked into especially the funding for the new approved structure. The Committee Researcher suggested that the Inspectorate should consider the following specific recommendation: Converting their annual report chapters into set programmes as follows: Programme 1: Administration; Programme 2: Inspection, Investigation, Complaints and Mandatory Reporting; Programme 3: Community Oversight and Stakeholder Engagement and Programme 4: Research and Special Projects. Budget should be allocated for each of these programmes and a report should be given on the expenditure for each programme. The possibilities of setting targets for each programme should also be considered.

A submission was heard from the Wits Justice Project (WJP) which focused on the independence of JICS, the ICCV programme and JICS investigations particularly on the feedback loop with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the public.  It is of great concern to WJP that JICS’s powers are being hampered in its inability to make enforceable recommendations to the DCS. There is no requirement for the DCS to report back to JICS on steps taken in response to its recommendations. JICS also has no powers to refer cases directly to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). JICS is unable to financially separate itself from the DCS it monitors because JICS uses DCS’s infrastructure and services like offices, telephones and other facilities. Effective ways must be sought to enhance JICS’s mandate and financial resources for adequate empowerment as a separate entity as it would definitely impact on the quality of its investigations as well as the ability of its staff to practice meaningful oversight.

WJP noted that ICCVs are highly overburdened. Statistics showed that there were 850 to 1000 inmates per ICCV and the ICCVs are required to interview 25% of the population every month in addition to taking their complaints. Since ICCVs sign short-term contracts, it led to job insecurity and ICCVs often ended up being employed by the DCS. This certainly would create problems between ICCVs and inmates. Adequate trainings of ICCVs was also emphasised. Consistent and thorough investigative reports must be made available to the public, as this would ascertain whether JICS’s oversight mandate was being fulfilled or not. This could be done if JICS creates a positive and well-functioning investigative feedback loop between itself and DCS and itself and the public.

The incident of the inmate who was tortured and forcibly given an anti-psychotic injection in the Mangaung prison was noted. However the outcry arising from these allegations had not been met with a similarly urgent and transparent response from the DCS and the JICS. WJP had repeatedly requested that DCS make their investigations public or provide some assurance that investigations were underway. WJP had also requested information from JICS on the progress of its investigations. The annual report by JICS and DCS obviously did not do justice to the scale and seriousness of the alleged abuses.        

In the ensuing discussion, the Committee asked DCS whether it was true that the report on the events at the Mangaung prison had been submitted only to the Mangaung prison. DCS responded that the investigations had been concluded except for the report from the operating contractor G4S, against whom the allegations were made. The Committee noted that WJP had requested a timeframe for when the DCS report on Mangaung would be finalised. The allegations had been made a year ago and corrective measures must be taken timeously. The Committee supported this stance. The DCS replied that a response as to what was holding up the report and its timeframe would be presented in its presentation the next day.

Members asked what specific recommendations WJP would give on the lack of sufficient training for ICCVs. The independence of JICS from DCS and its enforcement mechanisms would also be considered. A Member expressed his dissatisfaction with the continual repetitive JICS challenges raised by the stakeholders. Instead it would be beneficial for the Committee if Wits and other stakeholders could proffer an ideal organogram that would suffice for some of the concerns that were repeatedly raised. This would assist the Committee in knowing exactly how to conduct its oversight on JICS and DCS.
      
WJP said that the first step in training ICCVs would be the development of the SERA accreditation.  On the specific training needed by ICCVs, it is essential that ICCVs be trained to identify assault, torture, grievous bodily harm and the likes. An element of psychosocial training was also important. Wits proposed that job prospects and career paths be charted for ICCVs as this would assist them in building a more stable career for themselves. Wits Justice Project appreciated that the Committee recognised the need for open solution-oriented discussions on the role of JICS.  The Detention Justice Forum, a group of about 20 different detention oriented organisations had in the past requested a workshop session with the previous Portfolio Committee to debate on what JICS should look like, its powers, the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and the likes but it was not held. It would be highly beneficial if such an engagement with the Portfolio Committee was reconsidered.

Sonke Gender Justice had previously implemented peer education programmes in DCS facilities so as to improve the health-seeking behaviours of inmates and staff members and also to provide support, education and healthy living. Based on the JICS Annual Report, it raised concerns about the independence and mandate of JICS and sexual abuse of inmates. Sonke’s key recommendations were to: Secure the independence and autonomy of JICS and to implement the ‘Policy Framework to Address Sexual Abuse of Inmates in DCS Facilities’ urgently. Sonke considers sexual abuse as key drivers for HIV. HIV prevalence estimates from DCS and the Institute for Security Studies being 19.8% and 40% respectively - far above the national average. Sonke commended JICS for disaggregating sexual violence complaints from the general assault category. However, it noted that in the JICS 2013/14 Annual Report, only 10 complaints of sexual assault were reported. This was not a true reflection of extent of sexual abuse in correctional facilities.

Members asked what were the underlying causes of underreporting of assaults in correctional centres and why the screening tool had not yet been implemented. Another member wondered why it should be the inmates themselves that had to report the assaults and not the warders. The DCS replied that the standard practice was to go to the cells in the morning and in the evening and engage inmates. It would be left to the inmates to report incidences. DCS noted that a report could be made available to JICS once completed   

NICRO congratulated JICS on their 2013/14 report as it signified its efforts to improve the state of correctional services in South Africa. The role of JICS was accentuated - its hard work and the role it played with limited capacity in ensuring that the correctional system in the country is enhanced.  

NICRO said the reports over the years exposed that the rights of many inmates were still being violated in correctional centres. It suggested that subsequent JICS annual reports should have a section dealing with analysis, discussion and a summary of all the recommendations made by JICS that year. The recommendations could be categorised into systemic and thematic priorities with specific time frames. A schedule of recommendations should be kept to monitor performance over the medium to long term. Thematic reports on children, health, use of force and gangs in correctional centres could be generated. NICRO suggested that public hearings and stakeholder engagement forums should be encouraged by JICS. 

NICRO recommended that innovative and internationally accepted best practices could be looked into to alleviate the problems of overcrowding. The JICS annual report revealed an alarming number of juveniles and children on remand - 18 227 which represented 41% of the prison population. The country must not fold its arms while an unacceptable number of children and young people go to prison. To do this would be to put the country in grave danger. NICRO believes that no child should be caged. NICRO with few partners were in the process of exploring research into the plight of children presently in alternative care in South Africa. NICRO is concerned about the findings that reveal that the constitutional rights of children were being violated in correctional facilities. Imprisonment must be the last resort for children. It noted that not all inmates benefited from correctional programming, education and skills programmes, although there seemed to be a slight improvement in the community correction and correctional supervision functions. The Committee must continue to monitor: the number of children in correctional centres, the reasons for their detention, reasons for the under utilisation of Child and Youth Care Centres, the extent of intersectoral collaboration, access to education and how the DCS complies with SA’s international obligations particularly the UNs Convention on the Rights of the Child.                

The limited capacity of staff resources across JICS and the lack of funding for the vacant posts must be resolved as a matter of great importance. NICRO supported the Inspecting Judge's views that JIC offices should be established across the country to enable ICCVs to have proper office space to improve independence and build trust in the community. Assault of inmates by officials appeared to have increased over a three year period. Reporting on sexual violence in correctional centres was still low whereas the use of force by DCS officials increased at an alarming rate from 3 in 2009/10 to 191 in 2013/14. In the list of complaints and requests noted by the ICCVs, 'Communication with families' was top priority – 68 352, Transfers – 60 083, Health Care – 52 647 and Rehabilitation programmes – 34 470. It is essential to note that families are a key evidence-based practice (EBP) indicator for effective rehabilitation and reintegration. NICRO recommended that DCS to establish a Family Programme to ensure the rehabilitation of inmates and their families would be given more attention.

NICRO was concerned about the independence of JICS which had not been finalised though the issue had been previously raised. Any further delay to finalise these decisions would suggest a lack of commitment from the Parliament. NICRO applauded the ICCV system, as large numbers of complaints had been recorded annually. The ICCV system had also led to the more efficient management of complaints, supporting accountability, transparency as well as ensuring community involvement or public participation. NICRO supports the JICS plan to employ ICCVs on more permanent basis as this decision would ensure sustainability and consistency in addressing correctional centre issues over a long term.  However, the ICCVs were too dependent on the cooperation and the goodwill of DCS officials to resolve complaints and this compromised their watchdog function. It was also difficult to determine how many complaints taken by the ICCVs went unresolved. NICROs recommendation is that the Portfolio Committee considers the establishment of a Prison’s Ombudsman’s and a team of lay ICCVs would be a part of this team. The establishment of a Prison Ombudsman that deals with prisoner, families and visitors and complaints to which a strengthened Lay Visitor System could report to together with the Prison Visiting Committees would assist greatly. Individual complaints therefore would become the responsibility of the Independent Office of Prison Ombudsman.

NICRO supported the outlined recommendations made by the JICS in its Annual Report about an urgent review of the Emergency Support Team (EST). Poor leadership and management in some correctional centres must be addressed by the DCS. NICRO supported that the constitutional rights of inmates on conditions of detention consistent with human dignity are of paramount importance and should always be guarded and protected by institutions that are structurally stable and independent of the same institutions they seek to protect them from and oversee. NICRO supported the ratification of The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of Punishment (OPCAT) in order that effective oversight is put in place over all places of detention. Focused reports by JICS would assist greatly in bringing a deeper understanding to particular issues such as access to health care or particularly problematic prisons. NICRO recommended that JICS consider the publication of a set of Inspection standards and performance indicators that would constitute a benchmark for the assessment of prison conditions and subsequent reports based on the assessment against those standards.  NICRO supported the words of the Inspecting Judge that the merger of the Justice and Correctional Services Ministries and Committees would lead to a better coordination and enhanced collaboration within the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster, would focus on areas of common interest, maintain adequate synergies and lead to effective justice for all in South Africa.         

Two members raised cautions regarding the issue of children or juveniles in prisons. Exempting criminals from incarceration because they were minors was not be justifiable. Another member noted that NICRO would never be able to deal with the issue of overcrowding in the prisons if it was so concerned and passionate about family involvement.  NICRO stressed that as much as cases of children that had committed hideous crimes were known, the society was indeed responsible for the way the children turned out and families are the nucleus of the society. Families must never be excluded from rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders. Strategies must be considered to balance the issue of transfers, overcrowding and family involvement as both of them were important. Acquisition of skills was obviously very important, however, families must not be excluded. 
                                     
Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, made their submissions based on research they had previously conducted on Women in South African Prisons. The objectives of the research were to: understand who these women were, what were the key life events that precipitated their criminal involvement, what were the turning points in their lives and circumstances that led to their involvement in crime and eventual incarceration, and how had incarceration impacted their lives and those of their loved ones and communities?  No single study in South Africa had previously explored, in depth, the etiological and sociological factors of women’s criminality and pathways to crime. There was a critical absence of information about crime prevention, rehabilitation and social interventions in relation to female youth-at-risk and incarcerated women. The basic findings of the research were included in the submission. All the information received were quite important as there currently is a lack of knowledge about women in prison and a lack of gender disaggregated data in most fields of analysis in both the DCS and the JICS reports.

Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit highlighted guiding principles and practices that could assist women in prison. It proposed that the systematic collection, collation and analysis of data pertaining to the female child and juvenile remand prisoners, adult female remand prisoners, female child and juvenile sentenced prisoners, adult female sentenced prisoners should be reported. All reported data on male prisoners ranging from participation in work and rehabilitation activities to complaints made to the JICS and or other DCS mechanisms should be disaggregated by gender. Inter-departmental statistical analysis was to be encouraged and SAPS should record the number of female arrests which is currently not reported and NPA  should record the number of cases of females brought to trial, convicted and sentenced. The Committee said it agreed with UCT's request for the disaggregation of DCS/JICS statistics for women, youth and children.
 

Meeting report

Analysis of 2013/14 Annual Report of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS)
The Committee Researcher, Mr Mpho Mathabathe, his briefing aimed to assist the Portfolio Committee in its deliberations on the JICS Annual Report of JICS. This was in line with Section 55(2) of the Constitution which states that the National Assembly is required to provide mechanisms to ensure that the executive organ of state and public entities in the national sphere of government are accountable to it.

The mission of the JICS includes prevention of human rights violations through the monitoring of mandatory reporting systems, the maintenance of an independent complaints system and the promotion of transparency in the activities of the Judicial Inspectorate. The current Inspecting Judge, Judge Vuka Tshabalala, was appointed on 1 November 2011 for a period of three years. Mr Mike Masondo, a JICS Director, was appointed acting CEO in place of JICS CEO, Mr Adam Carelse, who was suspended on 12 September.

The key success recorded for 2013/14 was a substantial decrease in the number of disciplinary matters from 12 (in 2012/13) to 2 (in 2013/14). On the other hand, the key challenges documented were: 46% of the employees of the Inspectorate are contract staff, there was a lack of commitment to fund the new post establishment by the Department of Correctional Services, there was an over-spending of the budget by R5 million, the challenge of the office space allocation by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the decrease in the number of females employed by the Inspectorate from 52% in 2012/13 to 46% in 2013/14. The JICS budget allocation was R31 666 600 representing 0.17% of DCS’ budget with the final expenditure being R36 780 635.30, compared to R31 321 506.67 in 2012/13. Employees were compensated with R30 763 994.45 compared to R24 854 192.92 in 2012/13, Goods and Services: R 6 016 640.85 compared to R 6 467 313.75 in 2012/13. Communication costs were R332 453.98 compared to R191 994.69 in 2012/13. The JICS is dependent on many transversal systems of DCS. For example, the email and internet system used by the Inspectorate is controlled by DCS, in some instances the Inspectorate borrows vehicles from DCS and the Inspectorate depends on funding from DCS to purchase vehicles. The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) provides the Inspectorate’s Head Office with IT hardware and software support whereas DCS provides network-related support. Its fleet of vehicles were insufficient to meet the Inspectorate’s operational needs with 20 vehicles of which 4 were older than 10 years with extremely high mileage that had been identified for disposal.

The composition of inmates in correctional centres were a total of 110 412 inmates sentenced (104 670 in 2012/13). Children were 235, Juveniles – 26 810 and Females – 2 235. A total of 44 236 were in remand homes with Children – 181, Juveniles – 18 046 and Females - 663. There were 91 inspections in correctional centres in 2013/14 with the following general findings amongst others:
Infrastructure inadequate - 44 instances; insufficient programmes - 16 instances; Occupational health and safety - 15 instances. Additionally, it was discovered that rotten fruit was distributed to inmates at Barkley East correctional centre and no educational programmes were offered to juveniles at Harrismith correctional centre. A total of 20 investigations were conducted as against 39 in 2012/13 and a number of centres were investigated due to allegations of serious assaults by Emergency Support Team (EST). The Complaints Unit of Inspectorate received 1 115 complaints from various sources, with most complaints relating to transfers (243), others (181) parole (115) assaults inmates by officials (109). 46 unnatural deaths were recorded as against 57 in 2012/13 and 588 natural deaths were recorded compared to  652 in 2012/13. 8 397 cases of segregation were reported as against 7 493 in 2012/13, 271 mechanical restraints reports were received by the Inspectorate compared to 207 in 2012/13 and 191 cases on the use of force by officials to inmates were recorded as against 83 in 2012/13. The Committee Researcher emphasized that since the Inspectorate relied on the Department to submit reports on segregation and mechanical restraints, there should be a way in which the Inspectorate could verify if the figures in the reports were accurate or not.

Independent Correctional Centre Visitors (ICCVs) are independent contractors who are remunerated for the number of hours they spend at a correctional centre and they are appointed for each correctional centre after public consultations and nominations. The Inspectorate currently has 309 ICCV posts establishment but has filled up only 273 ICCVs. The ratio of ICCVs to inmates is currently 1:536 based on 288 filled posts. The Researcher noted that the vacancies recorded in ICCVs posts were as a result of resignations for greener pastures and dismissals for submitting fraudulent claims. He noted that it is essential that the target for ICCVs per month be ascertained. 450 916 requests and complaints were dealt with by the ICCVs in 2013/14 financial year. Majority of requests and complaints related to lack of communication with families (68 352); transfers (60 083); health care (52 647) and bail (46 301).

Mr Mathabathe said that information was needed about the outcomes of these complaints and how the ICCVs influence the outcomes of these requests and complaints. He emphasized that since there had been an increase in the number of requests and complaints dealt with by ICCVs, the Inspectorate should find ways to report on the outcomes of these complaints and requests. The issue of funding for the Inspectorate should also be looked into especially the funding for the new approved structure. The Committee Researcher suggested that the Inspectorate should consider the following specific recommendations. They were: Converting their chapters into programmes as follows: Programme 1: Administration; Programme 2: Inspection, Investigation, Complaints and Mandatory Reporting; Programme 3: Community Oversight and Stakeholder Engagement and Programme 4: Research and Special Projects. Budget should be allocated for each of the above programmes and report should be given on the expenditure for each programme. The possibilities of setting targets for each programme should also be considered.

Discussion
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) wanted to know whether the matters raised by the Committee researcher in his submission had been previously raised with the DCS by the JICS. What were his recommendations for the questions raised in his submission.

The Chairperson said that the JICS would be making their presentation later in the day, therefore issues such as these could be raised with them.

Wits Justice Project (WJP) submission on Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services
Ms Robyn Leslie, WJP researcher, appreciated the opportunity that the Committee had given to provide input into its important deliberations. She emphasised that the work of the Portfolio Committee is essential in maintaining the balance and oversight enshrined in the Constitution.

The Wits Justice Project is a project based at the Journalism Department of the University of the Witwatersrand and aims to make significant impact on the lives of people by striving for changes in the criminal justice system. WJP's comments focused on the independence of JICS, the ICCV programme and JICS investigations, particularly the feedback loop with DCS and the public. 

She commended JICS on an excellent 2013/14 report particularly on the level of detail included such as feedback from investigations conducted, focus on abuse and the Emergency Support Team system. WJP is pleased that JICS had been investigating allegations of abuse and torture, and were also raising issues on its structure and composition. It is of great concern that JICS’s powers are hampered in its inability to make enforceable recommendations to the DCS. Currently, there is no requirement for the DCS to report back to JICS on steps taken in response to its recommendations. This hitch would definitely result in a lack of response to investigative reports. JICS also has no powers to refer cases directly to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Furthermore, JICS is currently unable to financially separate itself from the DCS it monitors. Effective ways must be sought to enhance JICS’s mandate and financial resources for adequate empowerment as a separate entity. This step would definitely impact on the quality of its investigations as well as the ability of its staff to practice meaningful oversight.

WJP noted that ICCVs are highly overburdened. Statistics show that there are approximately 850-1000 inmates per ICCV and the ICCVs are required to interview 25% of the population every month in addition to taking their complaints. The JICS budget is insufficient to support the scale of work that it does in each of the 240 correctional centres. ICCVs sometimes had to borrow DCS computers to file reports and communicate with JICS offices. Since the ICCVs are operationally and administratively dependent on the DCS and the correctional facility staff for the use of telephones, computers and interview rooms, it would be far less likely for an ICCV to be critical of the management. Additionally, ICCVs signs short-term contracts, which meant that there was a limited time to implement their learning skills before their contracts ended. They are permitted to reapply for their positions but for a limited number of times. This situation in essence, leads to job insecurity and ICCVs often ended up being employed by the DCS as some ICCVs viewed DCS as having longer term job prospects. This certainly would create problems between ICCVs and inmates.  Training of ICCVs is also essential as they need training on the wide range of issues that they could come across in their line of duty. By not providing adequate training on how ICCVs should handle matters from complaints about food, identifying signs of torture, assault and abuse, these serious crimes could go unnoticed. The gap present in the medical profession also needed urgent attention. All these listed issues often led to the inmates having little faith that either JICS or ICCVs have the ability to assist them.

JICS needs to create a positive and well-functioning investigative feedback loop between itself and DCS and itself and the public. Without consistent, thorough investigative reports being made available to the public, there would be no way of ascertaining whether JICS’s oversight mandate is being fulfilled or not.

Ms Leslie gave an account of a man that was tortured and forcibly given an anti-psychotic injection in the Mangaung prison. The seriousness of the issue was clearly presented in the account of the man which she read to the Committee. She noted that the South African and international outcry arising from these allegations had not been met with a similarly urgent and transparent response from both the DCS and the JICS. Prior to this time, WJP had repeatedly requested that the DCS make their investigations public or provide some assurance that investigations were underway. WJP had also requested information from JICS on the progress of its investigations. The JICS and DCS annual reports obviously did not do justice to the scale and seriousness of the abuses alleged.        

Discussion
Mr J Selfe (DA) appreciated the Wits Justice Project submission. He asked DCS whether it was true that the report of the events of the Mangaung prison had been submitted only to the Mangaung prison.

Mr Umesh Raga, JICS National Manager: Legal Services, replied that JICS had several times requested the DCS report on the Mangaung incident from the DCS but no report has been forthcoming as yet. JICS itself had made investigations into the issue and the legality of the use of the injections at the Mangaung prison so JICS already has one part of the investigation but the other part from the Mangaung prison or the DCS is yet to be received.    

Mr Zacharia Modise, DCS Acting Commissioner, replied that the investigations had been concluded except for the report from the operating contractor against whom the allegations were made. Once the report has been received and brought into context with the allegations made, the DCS would then be in the position to submit its findings to JICS.

Ms Leslie asked if the DCS could give a timeframe as to when to expect the report? She wanted to know if G4S had been responsive especially as the allegations against them had been in existence for over a year.

Mr Smith reiterated the Wits Justice Project position on whether a timeframe could be given by the DCS for the submission of the report. He added that investigating such cases for more than 12 months would be to delay justice and justice delayed is justice denied. If corrective measures must be adequately taken, then it must be done timeously. What was holding up the report? He suggested that DCS should put its findings together on the reason for the delay as the Committee would properly engage with it tomorrow during its Annual Report presentation to the Committee. He assured the WJP that the issue would be taken up by the Committee with the DCS until a logical conclusion is reached.

The Chairperson asked DCS whether they would respond to the allegations now or defer it until the next day when they would be presenting their report to the Committee?

Mr Modise replied that DCS would prefer to respond during its submission to the Committee the next day.

Ms M Mothapo commented on the lack of sufficient training noted by the Wits Justice Project. What were their specific recommendations on this? What should ICCVs be trained on?  

The Chairperson reiterated the problems around proper reporting by JICS. The independence of JICS from DCS and its enforcement mechanisms should also be looked into. What would Wits expect to see regarding the training or sensitive interventions of the JICS staff and ICCVs. The recommendation made by Wits on the ICCVs having long term contracts instead of the short term contracts must be considered on a balanced plane so that unrealisable targets are not made.       

Ms Leslie, responding on behalf of the Wits project said that the first step in training ICCVs would be the development of the SETA accreditation. That accreditation would put in place a series of norms and standards that could be evaluated. On  the specific training needed by the ICCVs, professionalism is key. It is essential that ICCVs be trained to identify assault, torture, gruesome bodily harm and the likes. These may require not only medical training but some other kind of knowledge. For example in case of an allegation of assault, the ICCV must be in to see the assault in 48hours because the body heals and delay would definitely decrease the intensity of the assault. An element of psychosocial training would also be essential for ICCVs. Training to identify a sick individual in terms of suicide risks would also be important. In terms of the independence of JICS, Wits recommendation would be that JICSs budget be assigned directly from the Parliament. Wits was not suggesting that ICCVs should be permanent or long term staff members, but that they should have a career plan or path and job prospects so that they would not keep considering the DCS as having a long term job prospect. 

Mr V Smith expressed great dissatisfaction with the JICS concerns raised by all the stakeholders. He suggested that it would be beneficial if Wits and all other stakeholders could proffer an ideal organogram that would suffice for some of the issues repeatedly raised. This would assist the Committee to know exactly how to conduct its oversight on JICS and DCS.

The Chairperson chipped in that the submissions do not effectively assist the Committee to understand what was happening in the prisons. She reiterated that Wits should come up with suggestions as to how JICS should be structured to make it more effective and efficient.

Mr Raga replied that if JICS reports between the year 2000 and 2014 were considered in addition to oversight visits, it would give the Committee a vivid understanding of what was going on in the prisons. JICS duty is to critique or praise the DCS in its report and it is the role of Parliament to ensure that recommendations made to the DCS were carried out. In JICS view, this feedback loop was missing. The enforceability of JICS recommendations to the DCS could come from legislative change, goodwill from the DCS or from Parliament. How effective was Parliament in enforcing matters previously raised by JICS?

The Chairperson cut in to remind JICS that it would have its space later in the day to raise issues bordering on JICS and matters that JICS felt needed to be considered about parliamentary lack of oversight. 

Ms Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi, Wits Justice Project coordinator, appreciated the Committee's need for open solution-oriented discussions on the role of JICS.  She on behalf of the Detention Justice Forum, a group of about 20 different organisations that work in the field of detention, had in the past focused greatly on what JICS should look like. The forum had also in the past requested a workshop session with the previous Portfolio Committee to debate what JICS should look like, its powers, ratification of UNCAT and the likes. A day had been scheduled for the workshop which was later cancelled due to a parliamentary change of programme. It would therefore be highly beneficial if this was reconsidered.

The Chairperson appreciated the contribution of Wits Justice Project and emphasised that stakeholder participation was considered highly important and significant in deliberations.     
 
Sonke Gender Justice submission on JICS Annual Report 2013/2014
Ms Marlise Richter, Policy Development and Advocacy: Sonke Gender Justice, gave a brief summary of the mandate of the organisation. Founded in 2006, Sonke uses a human rights framework to build the capacity of government, civil society organisations and citizens to achieve gender equality, prevent gender-based violence and reduce the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS. Sonke’s work with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) seeks to address the interrelated issues of HIV/AIDS and sexual abuse, policy advocacy, capacity building and training with inmates and staff. Sonke had previously implemented peer education programmes in DCS facilities so as to improve the health-seeking behaviours of inmates and staff members and also to provide support, education and healthy living.

The focus of Sonke’s submission on the JICS Annual Report focused on JICS independence and mandate and the sexual abuse of inmates. Ms Richter raised concerns over JICS dependence on the financial and administrative support of DCS and also on its limited budget allocation. She recalled that in 2013, Sonke initiated a research into the functioning of the JICS ICCV and Visitors Committees (VCs) on behalf of the Detention Justice Forum. Two monitoring forms were developed to assist in the analysis of both the regular VC meetings and the stakeholder meetings held between 1 June – 5 September 2013. The key findings showed that the work of ICCVs was being severely hampered by their administrative and functional dependence on DCS, lack of office space which warranted having to conduct interviews in hallways and this obviously curbed confidentiality as private spaces were critical for maintaining inmate confidentiality.   Based on these conditions therefore, it was not surprising that the most sensitive complaints, such as those about sexual abuse were rarely reported to ICCVs. Other findings were that ICCVs most times did not have their own computers or phones and had to rely on the DCS, had conflict of interest, had delays in work and lack of independence. The Heads of Correctional Centres (HoCCs) often did not attend Visitors Committee meetings therefore suggesting that VC meetings were not considered a priority.

Sonke’s recommendations for the facilitation of JICS independence were: ICCVs should be supported by JICS Head Office, Regional Managers and Visitor Committee Coordinators; ICCV practical dependence on DCS should be addressed; cooperation between DCS and JICS Head Office should be enhanced; all HoCCs are to participate actively in VC meetings; complaints should be properly followed up, there should be an increased civil society and other stakeholder involvement in ICCV; there should be committed investment in ICCV training; separate legislation for JICS and it should have the power to make binding recommendations and it should be granted investigative powers similar to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

Sonke believes that sexual abuse is widespread in DCS facilities which are key drivers of HIV. HIV prevalence estimates from DCS and the Institute for Security Studies were 19.8% and 40% respectively - far above the national average. Half of all inmates surveyed by JICS in 2007 reported that sexual abuse happened sometimes, often or very often. Sonke commended JICS for disaggregating sexual violence complaints from the general assault category, however it noted that in the 2013/14 Annual Report, only 10 complaints of sexual assault were reported by JICS which obviously was not a true reflection of extent of sexual abuse in correctional facilities. Ms Richter emphasised the training of DCS staff, JICS staff and inmates on the Sexual Offences Act. Sexual assault data should be disaggregated and specialized sexual offences complaints form should be used. The implementation and monitoring of the “Policy Framework to Address Sexual Abuse of Inmates in DCS Facilities” should be encouraged.

Discussion
Mr Selfe inquired on the policy framework that would address sexual abuse of inmates. What was the underlying cause of underreporting of assaults in correctional services? Could it be that the inmates were scared or ashamed? He expressed his concerns that the screening tool had not been implemented. Last year, the previous Committee had been informed that the screening tool would be implemented soonest. What was the cause of the delay? Did that mean that up till now, there was still no assessment tool to determine whether an inmate would be vulnerable to sexual abuse or not?  

Ms K Litchfield-Tshabalala (EFF) wondered why it should be the inmates themselves that had to report the assaults. Why were the warders not reporting assaults that occurred in the prisons? Could they be termed as part of the assaults?

Mr Modise, DCS Acting Commissioner, asked the Chairperson if the issues being raised could be responded to now or tomorrow when the DCS would be presenting its report. Are the stakeholders sure that the research methodologies used by them to determine their findings and the statistics had been adequately considered?

There was a unanimous agreement which was verbalised by the Chairperson that the DCS should give an immediate response to the issues raised by stakeholders.

Mr Modise replied that the standard practise was to go to the cells in the morning and in the evening and engage offenders. It would be left to the offenders to come up and report incidents. However regarding vulnerable offenders, the officials may identify and separate them from the others. Appropriate action had been taken on rape cases that had been reported by DCS officials and treatment given to the inmate involved. With reference to the submission of the Wits Justice Project especially on the Mangaung Report, he said that "we have a report on the findings and what transpired afterwards which responds to the article written in the Mail and Guardian by Miss Hopkins, the journalist at WJP that wrote the entire Mangaung issue in the Mail and Guardian. Only a request from SA Human Rights Commission had been made as to the findings of that report. There would be no reason whatsoever why such report could not be submitted to JICS at its request.   

National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO) submission
Ms Venessa Padayachee, NICRO National Manager: Advocacy and Lobbying, thanked the Committee for the opportunity given to make a submission on the JICS Annual Report. NICRO congratulated JICS on its 2013/14 report as it signified its efforts to improve the state of correctional services in South Africa. She accentuated the hard work and the role JICS played with limited capacity to ensure that the correctional system in the country is enhanced.  

The JICS reports over the years have assisted in exposing that the rights of many inmates were still being violated in Correctional Services. She suggested that in subsequent reports it would be helpful to have a section on the analysis, discussion and a summary of all the recommendations made by JICS in its report. The recommendations could be categorised into systemic and thematic priorities with specific time frames with a schedule of recommendations being kept to monitor performance over the medium to long term. It would be helpful to see over a period of time, the recommendations that had been dealt with and how. She attached a tabulated form to her report of key findings, complaints and requests made by inmates for the attention of JICS and the Committee. This would assist in quickly picking up key findings instead of going through the whole document to pick up the issues. Further, thematic reports on children, health, use of force and gangs in correctional services could be generated. NICRO also suggested that public hearings and stakeholder engagement forums should be encouraged by JICS.  The methodology employed by the Emergency Support Team (EST) and their impunity to the law was highlighted in the JICS report and NICRO strongly supported JICS recommendation for an urgent and comprehensive review of the role, functions, authority and methodology of the EST.

NICRO recommended that innovative and internationally accepted best practices could be looked into so as to alleviate the problems of overcrowding in some of the centres. JICS report revealed an alarming figure for the number of juveniles and children on remand - 18 227 which represented 41% of the prison population. The country is in grave danger if she sits down and does nothing while an unacceptable number of children and young people go to prison. The bigger question then would be how to prevent children and young people from getting to prisons. There is a need for a shift in this rapidly growing trend if South Africa were to have a better society. JICS in partnership with other relevant bodies must do more rigorous work to make imprisonment a last resort for children. Currently, NICRO together with others are exploring the possibility of researching and placing children in alternative care. It was also noted that not all inmates benefitted from correctional programming and literacy, education and skills programmes, concerns about hygiene and food, though there seemed to be a slight improvement in the community correction and correctional supervision functions.             

The limited capacity of staff resources across JICS and the lack of funding for vacant posts must be resolved as a matter of great importance. NICRO pointed out that the staff training by JICS did not include training on correctional management or on oversight. NICRO supported the Inspecting Judge's views that JIC offices should be established across the country to enable ICCVs to have proper office space which would improve independence and build trust in the community.

Assault of inmates by officials seemed to increase over a three year period: from 71 in 2011/12 to 109 in 2013/14. Reporting on sexual violence in correctional centres was still low whereas the use of force by DCS officials increased at an alarming rate from 3 in 2009/10 to 191 in 2013/14. The rate of suicides remained a concern and the non-compliance and dereliction of the duties of the DCS officials were glaring and needed to be addressed. The use of mechanical restraints and segregation also seemed to be increasing. With regards to complaints and requests noted by the ICCVs, Communication with families were of top priority – 68 352, Transfers – 60 083, Health Care – 52 647 and Rehabilitation programmes – 34 470. It is essential to note that families are a key EBP indicator for effective rehabilitation and reintegration. Over the years, NICRO had recommended to DCS to establish a Family Programme to ensure the rehabilitation of inmates and their families would be given more attention. The focus on families should not only focus on visits but on programmes that build and strengthen families.

NICRO believes that no child should be caged; therefore there should be no reason why a child should end up in a correctional facility. NICRO has also become aware that child and youth care centres were also becoming mini-prisons. NICRO with a few partners were in the process of exploring research into the plight of children presently in South Africa in alternative care. NICRO is concerned about the findings that reveal that the constitutional rights of children were being violated. Ms Padayachee said this needs urgent and immediate attention. The Constitutional Court clarified the right of the child to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care and social services which has no internal qualifiers and is therefore not subject to progressive realisation. These rights should be immediately realisable. The Child Justice Act No 75 of 2008 imposes various duties on officials across the justice and social sectors. The Committee must continue to monitor: the number of children in correctional centres, the reasons for their detention, reasons for the under utilisation of child and youth care centres, the extent of intersectoral collaboration, access to education and how the DCS complies with SA’s international obligations particularly the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  

Also of concern to NICRO was the plight of those who should be qualifying for medical parole. There were inmates who fit the requirements of the law for medical parole but whose applications were denied or delayed due to lengthy administrative purposes.

NICRO was concerned about the independence of JICS which had not been finalised although the issue had been previously raised. The previous Portfolio Committee had already held consultations with a range of stakeholders on the independence of JICS. It appeared that all were in agreement that changes be made to facilitate this process. Recommendations including legislative amendments had been suggested. These suggestions need to be considered urgently by the Committee and decisions taken as soon as possible if there is any seriousness attached to the value of independent oversight of Corrections in South Africa. Any further delay to finalise these decisions would suggest a lack of commitment from Parliament. NICRO encouraged the steps that had been taken by JICS to ensure that the issue of independence is finalised. In its Annual Report 2011/12, JICS stated that it met with the Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to explore legislative amendments to become an entity independent of the DCS. JICS reported that to move to a model of complete independence would require: an internal audit function, the need to implement formalised equity plans, workplace skills and risk management plan, fraud prevention plans with sufficient resources to do so, compilation of a JICS Management Information System, formalisation  and implementation of policies and procedures for donations, sponsorships and gifts, disciplinary actions and delegations of power, special leave and basic terms and conditions of employment policies, and the establishment of institutional, budget and planning committees as well as specification committees, evaluation committees and adjudication committees.

Through the ICCV system, large numbers of complaints had been recorded annually. The ICCV system had led to the more efficient management of complaints, supporting accountability, transparency as well as ensuring community involvement and public participation. However, since the ICCV is a lay system of monitoring the prisoner’s complaints, the ICCV system should not replace the DCS’s internal complaints mechanism. The ICCV should be there to monitor the management of complaints and facilitate the resolution of unresolved complaints in addition to providing civilian oversight of the treatment of prisoners and their complaints. NICRO supports JICS plan to employ ICCVs on a more permanent basis because presently ICCVs are employed as independent contractors for three years. This decision would ensure sustainability and consistency in addressing correctional centre issues over a long term.  On the other hand, the effectiveness of the ICCV system was uncertain as there is widespread dissatisfaction among prisoners about the manner in which their complaints were being dealt with by ICCVs. At a practical level, the ICCVs were too dependent on the cooperation and the goodwill of DCS officials to resolve complaints and this compromised their watchdog function. It is also difficult to determine how many complaints taken by the ICCVs go unresolved. It had been recommended in the Gallinetti report in 2004 on the Independent Prison Visitors System that the ICCV profile be reconfigured to include among the lay volunteers, some professionals and experts with specialist expertise on aspects such as correctional management, health care, psychological services, parole, nutrition and buildings/infrastructure. This would enable more effective monitoring and engagement with Head of Centres. NICRO's recommendation is that the Portfolio Committee considers the establishment of a Prison Ombudsman and a team of lay ICCVs would be a part of this team. The establishment of a Prison Ombudsman that deals with prisoner, families and visitors and complaints to which a strengthened Lay Visitor System could report to, together with the Prison Visiting Committees, would assist greatly. Individual complaints therefore would become the responsibility of the Independent Office of the Prison Ombudsman.

NICRO supports the outlined recommendations made by JICS in its Annual Report regarding the EST. The JICS alludes to poor management strategies. Poor leadership and management in some correctional centres must be addressed by the DCS. NICRO supports that the constitutional rights of inmates on conditions of detention consistent with human dignity are of paramount importance and should always be guarded and protected by institutions that are structurally stable and independent of the same institutions they seek to protect them from and oversee. NICRO supports the ratification of The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of Punishment (OPCAT) in order that effective oversight is put in place over all places of detention. Since the establishment of JICS, it had not published inspection reports that reveal trends and identify particular themes in complaints but had relied on its annual reports and now quarterly reports to the Portfolio Committee to convey its findings to the Parliament, focused reports would therefore assist greatly in bringing a deeper understanding to particular issues such as access to health care or particularly problematic prisons. NICRO also recommends that JICS consider the publication of a set of Inspection standards and performance indicators that would constitute a benchmark for the assessment of prison conditions and subsequent reports based on the assessment against those standards.  NICRO supports the words of the Inspecting Judge that the merger of the Justice and Correctional Services Ministries and Committees would lead to a better coordination and enhanced collaboration within the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster, that would focus on areas of common interest, maintain adequate synergies and lead to effective justice for all in South Africa.   
     
Discussion
The Chairperson appreciated the submission but was bothered whether the different services and stakeholders were actually complementing each other in the effectiveness and efficiency desired to be seen in the correctional sector of the country.

Mr Selfe raised a caution regarding children or juveniles in prisons. He gave examples of juveniles that were already hardened criminals at such a young age. Excusing such criminals because they were minors would not be justifiable. With regards to family visits and transfers, he noted that if every transfer request was honored and everyone allowed to be close to their families, the overcrowding in some correctional facilities would skyrocket. NICRO proposed that the Portfolio Committee should give JICS the powers to enforce its recommendations. However, discussion should be around a more holistic debate about the powers of Chapter 9 institutions so as to have remedial actions that would be enforceable.
    
Ms Litchfield-Tshabalala narrated an experience she had several years back when she visited a correctional facility holding juveniles. She concluded that after being told of the various gruesome offences carried out by those children, it was obvious that they could not be categorized as children and exempted from punishment. What had been hindering JICS from achieving its semi autonomy? What was the current profile of the competencies of ICCVs?
 
Mr Smith agreed with Mr Selfe that NICRO would never be able to deal with the issue of overcrowding in the prisons if it is so concerned and passionate about family involvement.  He was not convinced that family helped rehabilitation as family had not helped in the area where he is from. In his own opinion, skills acquisition for the inmates rather than family involvement was key if a more productive person was to be rehabilitated back into the society.  

The Chairperson said that partnerships were important as they strengthen and enrich the processes.

Ms Padayachee agreed that as a stakeholder, NICRO must not work in isolation but must work together with other stakeholders to produce the change that is desirable. NICRO had earlier engaged with JICS and DCS and those processes were still ongoing. She stressed that as much as cases of children that had committed hideous crimes were known, society was indeed responsible for the way the children turned out and families are the nucleus of society. If families continue to be excluded from rehabilitation and reintegration, the responsibilities of the families are then taken away. They should be responsible for the children they brought into the world. With regards to overcrowding, such offenders have to be moved to another facility, but we must ensure that such offenders have access to their families. DCS could look for a budget to assist families to visit their loved ones. Acquisition of skills was obviously very important, however, families must not be excluded. Strategies must be considered to balance overcrowding with family involvement as both of them were important.  There could be ICCV relevant expertise of a various nature, however the JICS report did not specify this but it is essential that ICCVs should be professionals that have a holistic knowledge of the work.

Gender, Health & Research Unit, University of Cape Town submission on DCS Annual Report 2013/2014 with a special focus on Women in Prison
Prof Lillian Artz, Gender, Health & Justice Research Unit, UCT Faculty of Health Sciences, gave a brief background to the submission based on the research that had been previously carried out by herself and colleagues on Women in South African Prisons. The objectives of the research were to: understand who these women were, what were the key life events that precipitated their criminal involvement, what were the turning points in their lives and the circumstances that led to their involvement in crime and eventual incarceration and how had incarceration impacted their lives and those of their loved ones and communities? 

She pointed out that no single study in South Africa had previously explored, in depth, the etiological and sociological factors of women’s criminality and pathways to crime and that there was a critical absence of information about crime prevention, rehabilitation and social interventions in relation to female youth-at-risk and incarcerated women. Several methods from relationship building to film screening and group discussions to workshops and in-depth interviews were employed to carry out the research. Creative exercises about pathways, secret postcard project, journaling and life mapping were some other methods that were used to collect data from more the than 80 women respondents. 33% of the women were between the ages of 18 and 29, 31% were between 30 and 39, 23% were between 40 and 49 whilst 13% were 50 years and above.
75% of the women that were interviewed were mothers and 45% of them had their first born between the ages of 16-19 years old. 46% of these women in prison were the sole supporters of their families whilst 67% of them were first time prisoners with a third of them having served for 10 years. It was observed that 47% of these women had a family member that had been incarcerated at one time or the other whilst 56% of them had experienced domestic violence or rape. 56% of women that had experienced sexual abuse as a child were being charged with murder, 38% charged with theft and 6% with drug related offences.

All this information was important as there currently is a lack of knowledge about women in prison and a lack of gender disaggregated data in most fields of analysis in both the DCS and JICS reports. This was apart from remand and sentenced prisoners, the gender of ICCVs, the gender of persons who died from unnatural deaths in custody and other indiscriminate human resources data. Without the disaggregation of data, it would be unclear how many female inmates were assaulted,  experienced violence during their incarceration or how many women benefited from skills development programmes, education programmes, literacy training, production workshops, agricultural programmes,  sports, recreation, arts, culture and the likes. It is also impossible to evaluate whether the minimum standards and guidelines for the conditions and treatment of female inmates are being met.

Prof Artz pointed out that the dimensions of criminal offending in women prisoners varied from that of their male counterparts. Some of the women were primary offenders, co-offending - engaging wilfully and directly in crime, subordinate offenders - in the case of those “compelled” to commit crime by another person, derivative offenders - those who either directly, or by extension, enjoyed the benefits of the primary offender, passive offenders – bystanders or women who were unaffected or impervious offenders - those who may not benefit from crime or violence, but who actively disregard criminal activity, for fear of reprisal or simple disregard.

She highlighted a few helpful guiding principles and practices that could assist women in prison. Some of them were: family contact and visitors, legal advice and the receipt of information on prison rules and the prison regime, caretaking arrangements for children, personal hygiene and health & mental health care, safety and security and classification of inmates and reintegration and non-custodial measures

She proposed that the systematic collection, collation and analysis of data pertaining to the female child and juvenile remand prisoners, adult female remand prisoners, female child and juvenile sentenced prisoners, adult female sentenced prisoners should be reported. All reported data on prisoners ranging from participation in work and rehabilitation activities to complaints made to the JICS and or other DCS mechanisms should be disaggregated by gender. She encouraged inter-departmental statistical analysis with SAPS (including the number of arrests made of women which is currently not reported) and NPA  (including the number of cases brought to trial, conviction and sentencing).

Discussion
Ms Litchfield-Tshabalala remarked that it was very clear from the presentations that society could not solve criminal problems at the prison level. These issues lie in the behaviour of the society and society must assist in solving and stopping crime. Psychosocial support is important.

The Chairperson appreciated the new dimension that the presentation had brought in. She said that it was good that focus had been placed on women. It would be helpful if data of children and other vulnerable groups could be segregated and focused on, as it would assist in gaining a better understanding.

Ms Mothapo commended the presentation. She said that issues raised were an eye opener and she wishes that DCS would subsequently respond to the points raised by the submission.

The Chairperson appreciated all the stakeholders in attendance. She reiterated that it is crucial that all hands are on deck and increased partnership is initiated so that in togetherness, the much-needed change could be realised.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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