Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services on its 2013/14 Annual Report & 2014/15 performance

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Justice and Correctional Services

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

The presentation from the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) on its 2013/14 Annual Report focused on its programmes which included 1) Human Resources and Development, Finance and Supply Chain Management; 2) Inspections, Investigations, Complaints and Mandatory Reports and 3) the Independent Correctional Centre Visitors system and Community Oversight.

On Human Resources and Development, the Committee was told that as at 31 March 2014, there were 45 approved and funded posts on the fixed post establishment. 38 additional contract posts had been created in line with the new approved post establishment of the organisation. He outlined the demographic composition of the Inspectorate and gave details about disciplinary matters covering disciplinary trespasses, sanctions and suspensions. One senior member, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), had been suspended pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing.

According to Section 91 of the Correctional Services Act, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) was responsible for all the expenses of the Inspectorate. The DCS budget vote for 2013/14 was approximately R18.7 billion. JICS was allocated a budget of R31.6 million representing 0.17% of the DCS budget. This amount was a 0.52% reduction from the 2012/13 financial year. JICS exceeded its budget by R5.1 million in 2013/14 due to the insufficient budget allocation needed to fund contract positions in line with the new post establishment. The major increases were noted in compensation of employees and the total expenditure amounted to approximately R17.2 million. Other expenditure items included resettlement costs, recruitment adverts, bursaries, training and staff development, computer hardware and systems, vehicles and fleet services.

During 2013/14, JICS legal services had dealt with the following cases: Use of force – 191; mechanical restraints – 271; segregations – 8 397; natural deaths – 588; unnatural deaths – 46; complaints – 1 115; investigations – 20; and inspections – 91.

The Inspecting Judge told the Committee that his term of office was ending at the end of October 2014 yet he had not heard anything from the Department or any other authority about this. The Committee said that they would take this up with DCS.

During the discussion, Committee Members asked for clarity on how the unfunded posts in the HR structure were now filled. To what extent had the present executive been engaged on the matter? How many contract positions currently existed in the Inspectorate? How were the funds of the Inspectorate audited? Why was the gender representation in JICS biased?

Members asked what the level of success was in satisfactorily dealing with complaints brought to the Inspectorate. The Committee also asked why sexual offences were left to the victims to report. Where were the correctional services authorities and wardens when these crimes were committed?

The Committee remarked that there was an urgent need for CCTV camera systems in prison cells as the footage from these systems was going to back all the reports which were to be made.
 

Meeting report

Opening Remarks by Acting Chairperson
The Acting Chairperson welcomed the Committee Members and the officials from the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS). She extended a special welcome to Judge Vuka Tshabalala, Inspecting Judge: Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services.

Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) briefing on its 2013/14 Annual Report
The presentation from JICS was done by Mr Mike Masondo, JICS Acting CEO. The presentation focused on the general administration of JICS comprising human resources and development, finance and supply chain management. The second focus of the presentation was inspections, investigations, complaints and mandatory reports. The third focus area was the Independent Correctional Centre Visitors (ICCV) system and community oversight.

After outlining the legislative mandate of the Inspectorate, Mr Masondo presented the three focus areas.

Administration
On Human Resources and Development, Mr Masondo told the Committee that as at 31 March 2014, there were 45 approved and funded posts on the fixed post establishment. 38 additional contract posts had been created in line with the new approved post establishment of the organisation. He outlined the demographic composition of the Inspectorate and gave details relating to disciplinary matters covering disciplinary trespasses, sanctions and suspensions. One senior member, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), had been suspended pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing.

The Committee was told that JICS complied with the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) process in respect of all employees on the fixed post establishment and all employees submitted their performance assessments and had been evaluated and moderated. Mr Masondo provided the Committee with an update on the organisational restructuring of the Inspectorate. As per the new post establishment, 29% of the posts were filled, 57% were vacant and 14% were filled on contract basis.

Finance and Supply Chain Management
According to Section 91 of the Correctional Services Act, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) was responsible for all the expenses of the Inspectorate. The DCS budget vote for 2013/14 was approximately R18.7 billion. JICS was allocated a budget of R31.6 million representing a 0.17% of the DCS budget. This amount was a 0.52% reduction from the 2012/13 financial year.

JICS exceeded its budget by R5.1 million in 2013/14 due to the insufficient budget allocation needed to fund contract positions in line with the new post establishment. The major increases were noted in compensation of employees and the total expenditure amounted to approximately R17.2 million. Other expenditure items included resettlement costs, recruitment adverts, bursaries, training and staff development, computer hardware and systems, vehicles and fleet services.

Legal Services
From June 2011, three units contributed to overseeing the legal services programme and these included: Inspections, Complaints and Mandatory Reporting. The overarching goal of the programme was for all inmates to be treated well and be held under conditions consistent with the Bill of Rights, the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998 (CSA) and international norms and standards. During the period under review, the programme had dealt with the following cases: Use of force – 191; mechanical restraints – 271; segregations – 8 397; natural deaths – 588; unnatural deaths – 46; complaints – 1 115; investigations – 20; and inspections – 91.

In terms of inmate population, overcrowding and effective management, during 2013/14 there had been 110 412 sentenced offenders and 44 236 remanded detainees.

Stakeholder Engagement
On the ICCV system, Mr Masondo told the Committee that the formation of Visitors Committees (VC) established in terms of Section 94 of the CSA comprising ICCVs for specific geographic areas, contributed largely to the resolution of complaints and provided an interactive forum for community oversight and stakeholder involvement in correctional matters. He presented a diagram which illustrated the powers and functions of ICCVs and VCs.

Discussion
The Acting Chairperson said the Annual Report and the presentation contained too many figures which were unfortunately not interrogated. She gave an opportunity to Judge Tshabalala to make some remarks before questions were received from Committee Members.

Judge Tshabalala said he did not have much to say after the detailed report which was before the Committee and the explicit presentation by Mr Masondo. He commented that the CEO of JICS had been found guilty by a disciplinary hearing although he was appealing the decision. In international matters, JICS was being assisted with extraditions and submissions had been made on these. Evidence was usually given by video link and much success had been registered.

Of concern was the detention of mentally ill people. This situation was mostly found in the Northern Cape. This was a serious concern and he suggested that the Department of Health had to intervene. Another concern was that of the Child Justice Act. The Judge President of KwaZulu Natal had written to him about this so as to inform magistrates on what to do under such circumstances. Judge Tshabalala said his office was currently conducting research on this and would reply shortly. He noted that all these issues were contained in the Annual Report.

Judge Tshabalala told the Committee that his term of office was ending at the end of the month of October 2014 yet he had not heard anything from the Department or any other authority about this.

The Acting Chairperson said she would take up the Judge’s term of office with the DCS. On the Child Justice Act, she said it would be good for the Committee to receive a report on the issue so that it could be better placed to assist. She also requested a report and briefing on the detention of mentally ill people.

Judge Tshabalala said the DCS did not have any jurisdiction over the Child Justice Act. The Department of Social Development had to champion the process.

The Acting Chairperson asked from where the letter mentioned by the Judge came.

Judge Tshabalala replied that the letter was written by the Judge President of KwaZulu Natal.

The Acting Chairperson said the Committee would like to see the letter and assist where possible. The Committee could engage the Portfolio Committee on Social Development on this.

The Acting Chairperson said it was worrying that the HR structure was approved but not funded. She asked for clarity on how the unfunded posts were now filled. To what extent had the present executive been engaged on the matter and how could the mandate be renewed? How many contract positions currently existed in the Inspectorate? How were the funds of the Inspectorate audited? Why was the gender representation in JICS biased?

Mr Masondo replied that there were 38 contract positions in JICS. Funding assistance had been received from the DCS to pay contract workers. Approximately R7 million had been allocated for this purpose. The Inspectorate had requested to continue with these contract workers. In terms of auditing, JICS had not been audited. An internal auditor had to be appointed to handle the issue. On gender representation, two females had resigned to take up more lucrative jobs elsewhere. If funding was provided, priority was going to be given to females so as to balance the gender representation. JICS was understaffed and capacity was a big constraint.

The Acting Chairperson noted that the duties of the Chief Financial Officer were being carried out by a junior employee and this posed a problem in terms of decision making. This issue had to be addressed and she suspected that this was one of the reasons why the Inspectorate had audit findings.

Mr J Selfe (DA) said the appointment and term of office of the Judge, the issue had to be taken up with the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and not DCS because the appointment was done by the President. On Mandatory Reporting, he asked why the problems were not reported on regularly as required. What was the level of success in satisfactorily dealing with complaints brought to the Inspectorate?

Ms K Litchfield-Tshabalala (EFF) asked why sexual offences were left to the victims to report. Where were the correctional services authorities and wardens when these crimes were committed? She remarked that JICS was an Inspectorate mandated to inspect the operations of DCS so there had to be a very high level of independence in their operations and reporting.

Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) apologised to Judge Tshabalala about the lack of notification on his appointment and term of office. As the Acting Chairperson had said, the matter was going to be handled urgently. There was an urgent need for CCTV camera systems in prison cells as the footage from these systems would back all future reports. On auditing, there was also an urgent need for internal as well as external auditing.

The Acting Chairperson asked for clarity on the bill dealing with CCTV cameras. She said perhaps this could be referred to DCS as it was their responsibility. She asked if ICCV training was financed by the JICS budget for salaries or was a levy paid to it from the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA).

Mr Masondo replied that currently no levy was paid to the SETA. JICS depended on funding from DCS.

Mr Masondo said the matter of CCTV cameras had to be addressed by DCS. On auditing, internal auditors had to prepare the Inspectorate for the external audits by the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA). JICS relied on AGSA for auditing. Unfortunately the internal auditing had not been happening.

In terms of its relationship with DCS, JICS reported and made recommendations and thereafter it was the responsibility of DCS to act upon the reports and recommendations. The only recourse available for JICS was to return to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee with any concerns about this. He noted that JICS was funded by DCS and the money covered the JICS headquarters and all the regional offices.

The Acting Chairperson insisted that it was disturbing for an Assistant Director to be executing the duties of a CFO. Something had to be done about this urgently. She said that it had been mentioned during an earlier meeting with DCS that there were recommendations from JICS which Parliament had not responded to. All these recommendations had to be consolidated and presented to the Committee. It was disturbing that some of these recommendations were actually with DCS and not Parliament. She requested that the Acting CEO should note this and act on it soon.

On the reporting of sexual offences, Mr Masondo said it was true that correctional authorities had a part to play in the reporting of these offences. JICS was very vigilant on the issue and inspectors were trained in this regard. JICS could only rely on the information which it received and most often this was from the victims. However, the provision and volunteering of information by victims was very rare and hardly happened. On mandatory reporting, it was pre-emptive that the reports had to be done thus verification was often the challenge.

The Acting Chairperson said the response relating to sexual offences was quite worrying as JICS did not even have a plan to address this. The fact that victims did not want to speak about the abuse meted on them did not mean that nothing could be done about it.

Mr V Smith (ANC) said JICS had a budget of about R31 million and it was complaining that this budget was not sufficient. It was up to JICS to outline what had to be done so that Parliament could assist in motivating to the Finance Minister and National Treasury on whether or not the JICS budget should be increased. JICS had to be very specific as to what needed to be done and how much was required for that. The presentation and the report did not achieve that objective.

The Acting Chairperson agreed with Mr Smith.

Judge Tshabalala said the remarks by Mr Smith worried him. Did it mean that all the information provided in both the Annual Report and the presentation was meaningless? An Annual Report had been presented to the Committee and he did not understand why Members would still ask for information which had clearly been provided. What more could JICS say to satisfy the Members? Judge Tshabalala said the comment by Mr Smith did not make sense to him.

The Acting Chairperson said the comment by Mr Smith was just asking for a clear indication and motivation for a budgetary increase to JICS.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the Members and the officials from JICS for participating in the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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