Correctional Centre Infrastructure: Department of Correctional Services briefing

This premium content has been made freely available

Justice and Correctional Services

05 November 2014
Chairperson: Dr M Motshekga (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Department of Correctional Services said that the Department of Public Works (DPW) was the custodian of government buildings and manages the municipality accounts for DCS facilities. DCS leases government owned properties directly from DPW and pays accommodation charges to DPW. For the 2014/15 to 2019/20 financial period, it requires 6 287 additional bed spaces. DCS has several incomplete construction projects. Reasons for the lack of completion include contracts cancelled because contractors were liquidated, poor project management by DPW, contracts given to contractors without the required financial capacity. The challenges with poor contractor performance, poor project management and poor contract selection continue and the intervention of both DCS and DPW ministers was required. The challenge of having the control of planned maintenance and the budget residing with DPW exacerbates the dilapidated condition of correctional centres. DCS was not involved nor consulted in the prioritisation of projects under this budget. The budget allocated to it was not capable of addressing the backlog in maintenance that has accumulated over the years since pre-1994. The Department was so concerned that Minister Masutha had requested a meeting with the Minister of Public Works together with the Auditor-General to have a serious engagement about DCS facilities.

Members said the building delays were shocking as was the fact that building contractors were appointed by DPW without the required financial capacity. Even though building infrastructure facilities was not the primary concern of DCS, the Committee said DCS should not outsource its oversight function. Members were very concerned that the challenges with poor contractor performance, poor project management and poor contractor selection by DPW continue. Surprisingly, DPW tends to give multiple projects to one contractor who then gets liquidated Was due consideration given before awarding such contracts? The Committee suggested that it meet with the Public Works Portfolio Committee and ministers to deal with capital expenditure matters and follow up on the DCS letter to DPW which had not been responded to. The Committee suggested taking a take a strenuous approach including other role players such as the National Treasury Procurement Division who should exercise oversight in evaluating and awarding contracts. Questions were raised about DCS' prioritisation of building too many beds at the expense of rehabilitation and reintegration.

DCS replied that offenders were becoming younger by the day and as a result it was necessary to build new facilities to train them in matters of labour and industry and attend school for those of school-going age. DCS also wants to put up remand detention facilities to ensure implementation of the White Paper on Remand Detention Management.

DCS said it was not entirely blaming DPW as DCS should have done better in managing the projects. DCS has approached Treasury for the funding of 96 posts in engineering, quantity surveyors and project managers to manage all projects under construction. DCS used to build its own facilities. DCS has seen the mistake of doing away with all those building teams. Hence it is reinstating teams to be able to maintain its own buildings where necessary, to build its own facilities while at the same time providing skills to offenders in accordance with their sentence plan.

Most of the facilities required major refurbishments and innovation. The Jali Commission report noted a lot of changes must be done to correctional facilities as some of them were built to dehumanise people. Some of the facilities were built over a 100 years ago and have come to a point where they are no longer fit for human habitation. The agency appointed to be in charge of all facilities was DPW. Whatever work needed to be done on a building had to be sanctioned by DPW. Overcrowding remains a challenge for DCS and many facilities were overcrowded.

Members urged DCS to use state farms that were underutilised so that it can produce food for itself, schools and hospitals and poor people. It cannot be old style incarceration any more. Food preparation should also be in-sourced.

DCS said it was constrained by the many roles it was being enjoined to take on - to incarcerate, to rehabilitate, to provide food, to teach, to provide health care workers. It was happy to incarcerate and rehabilitate with the other functions performed by other government departments.
 

Meeting report

Briefing the Department of Correctional Services on Infrastructure
Mr Zenzele Ndlela, DCS Deputy Commissioner: Facilities, said that the Department of Public Works (DPW) was currently implementing over 100 capital projects that include new facilities, replacement projects, major repair and renovations, water and sewerage projects, kitchen equipment replacements, electricity standby generator installations and day to day maintenance on behalf of DCS using DCS funds. As custodian of government buildings, DPW manages the municipal accounts for DCS facilities. DCS leases government owned properties directly from DPW and pays accommodation charges directly to DPW. In the 2014/15 to 2019/20 financial period, DCS will require 6 287 additional bed spaces. DCS has several projects that are incomplete for reasons that include contracts cancelled because contractors were liquidated, poor project management by DPW, contractors without the required financial capacity. The challenges with poor contractor performance, poor project management and poor contract selection by DPW continue and the intervention of both DCS and DPW ministers was required. The challenge of having the planned maintenance control and budget residing with DPW exacerbates the dilapidated state of correctional centres. DCS was not involved nor consulted in the prioritisation of projects under this budget. The budget allocated was not capable of addressing the backlog in maintenance that has accumulated over the years since pre-1994.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked about the contractors that get multiple contracts and then get liquidated, whether it was due to state negligence or reckless trading by the contractor. He asked how penalties were imposed on contractors that are liquidated. What will be the loss to government? There was not any specific reference to community correction rehabilitation and reintegration projects in the presentation. Infrastructure projects were for incarceration which means that people were just being sent to prison.

Mr Zachariah Modise, Acting National Commissioner, DCS, replied that the questions from the Chairperson were difficult to answer as it was DPW that adjudicates, but due consideration needed to be given to the ability of the contractor to perform. He requested time to see if  penalties were imposed and if the penalties were being honoured for all cancelled contracts. DCS had started establishing halfway houses since 2012 to enhance reintegration across the country in all regions. It will provide the Committee with a comprehensive written response on where the halfway houses were and how many people there were.

Mr J Selfe (DA) said it was a great pity that the DPW and the Independent Development Trust (IDT) and other subcontractors were not present. Even though building infrastructure facilities was not DCS’ primary concern, it can outsource that responsibility to whomever they like but the Committee will not outsource its oversight over that responsibility.  It was DPW who awards contracts and it was important for all role players to be in the same meeting to determine where the responsibility for failure lay. On 05 September 2012, DPW presented to the Committee and gave a presentation on shortcomings identified in contracts and how to overcome them in future. DPW recognised that awarding multiple contracts to one company was a risk but it was confusing as to whether this was taken into consideration in awarding new contracts. There were unacceptable delays in Vanrhynsdorp where the contractor started in 2007 and should have completed in 2009, got an extension to September 2011 and was supposed to pay R16 000 a day in penalties. Did the state get this amount since September 2011? Tzaneen was not finished because that contractor was also given Pretoria C-Max and in both cases failed to finish by the anticipated completion date. More so, the additional beds for Pretoria C-Max were 12, which was started in April 2011 but not yet completed. DCS need R2.56 billion for the upgrade of integrated security and an access control system at 106 correctional centres. In 2006 to 2007, Sondolo IT and Phezulu Fencing were paid huge amounts for security upgrades. Was the South African public ripped off by these companies for access facilities that were substandard and never put into place?  R44 million was required to upgrade kitchens in 72 correctional centres. He asked if food was in-sourced or outsourced for inmates. He remained concerned that there were challenges with poor contractor performance, poor project management and poor contractor selection by DPW which continues. Intervention by both the DCS and DPW ministers was required. If this did not happen, the Committee would continue to hear the same presentation from the same people that this had not yet been resolved.

Mr S Swart (ACDP) said yesterday’s submission by Justice laid a lot of blame on DPW. He was pleased that Mr Selfe knew the background to all of this. He was shocked that contractors were given contracts without the required financial capacity for projects that should have been completed as far back as 2009. The Committee must with the Public Works Portfolio Committee have a meeting at ministerial level to deal with capital expenditure issues, as well as the letter DCS had written to DPW without receiving a response. He asked if DCS was expecting under expenditure on capital expenditure given that only 54% had been spent in the 2014/15 financial year. He asked for clarity on DCS capacitating itself to enhance oversight over the completion of infrastructure and if this also included maintenance. He asked how Masetlaoka Scott Wilson (MSW) complements the work done by DPW. Treasury had just appointed a Chief Procurement Officer and asked if approval of contracts will go via this person as there was a problem with DPW’s awarding of contracts that impacted on service delivery. The Pretoria C-Max and Tzaneen delays were shocking as the same contractor was appointed without the required financial capacity. He wanted clarity on a facility in Port Elizabeth where a new contractor was appointed after the previous one was liquidated. The Committee must take a strenuous approach in including other role players such as the National Treasury Procurement Division to have them exercise oversight in evaluating and awarding contracts.

Mr V Smith (ANC) said the money was allocated to DCS and DCS must take the responsibility regardless of the shortcomings of DPW. DCS was the accounting officer. He asked if the 12 beds requiring R176 million for Pretoria C-Max was justified relative to the 24 beds requiring R76 million for Matatiele. He asked if the facilities that were 99% complete were operational or whether inmates were to be transferred only when they were 100% complete. What happened to project guarantees for contractors that went insolvent? Does DCS have capacity for internal control especially project management capacity? He asked if there was coordination between the Minister and DCS in planning for new facilities.

Prof C Msimang (IFP) said the total number of beds that need to be built reflects the shocking overpopulation and overcrowding in the prisons and asked how DCS handles this as this creates a terrible space for breeding health hazards. He asked what happens when a service provider goes bankrupt.

Mr W Horn (DA) asked how 518 beds will be built in 2016/17 given that the budget adjustment from the previous year will be only R40 million. He asked if this was a mere wish list given the austerity measures predicted by the Minister of Finance. He asked why a contract was awarded to MSW for a stalled project started in 2004 and what guarantee does DCS have that it will able to able add value for money.

The Chairperson said perhaps there was a need to address the whole question of the accountability of the accounting officers, the executive and the contractors. The question that arises is whether responsibility was outsourced to the contractors until they come back and informed the Department that they had been liquidated. While Sondolo and Phezulu “went down”, the Committee needs to understand what went wrong. Were they still existing? What loss was suffered by the state and what guarantee exists that new companies will be able to do what previous contractors failed to do? As DCS was the accounting officer, was it not fair that members of your team sit in on the appointment of contractors by DPW?

Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC) said she was concerned by the massive scale of buildings that were not completed. For those contractors that failed to deliver, was it due to DCS directly or was it DPW? It appeared as if DCS prioritised building too many beds at the expense of rehabilitation or reintegration. DCS had taken an impossible path to build many beds but it lacked capacity to do proper project management. She asked if DCS was to employ the 96 people approved by Treasury on a permanent basis or not. Moving forward, DCS needs to do due diligence to ensure that it does not have more bad stories and that money is used qualitatively.

Mr Modise replied that there was a public-private partnership (PPP) project to build five facilities that was cancelled because DCS, the Portfolio Committee and the Cabinet were not happy with PPP model. It was decided that DCS will build facilities throughout the country to replace the cancelled PPP project. Hence the 18 planned facilities as noted by Minister Masutha in the media. Offenders were becoming younger by the day and as a result it was necessary to build new facilities to train them in matters of labour and industry and to attend school for those of school-going age. More so, there was no facility for the incarceration of women. The ones currently used were male facilities, merely customised to accommodate females. DCS wants to set up remand detention facilities to ensure implementation of the White Paper on Remand Detention Management.

Mr Modise said DCS was not just blaming DPW overall as DCS should have done better in managing the projects. DCS had approached Treasury for the funding of 96 engineering, quantity surveyor and project manager positions to manage all projects. With the next couple of months, these people will have been appointed on a permanent basis. The main job for DCS was to rehabilitate. It was important that those who do maintenance impart skills to offenders in line with their sentence plan to do plumbing and electrical work. Once they do their trade tests, the offenders will be certificated. Apart from the 96 positions, DCS also wants to  put in maintenance teams to impart skills to offenders. DCS used to build its own facilities at head office and in the regions with excellent workmanship. DCS has seen the mistake of doing away with all those building teams. Hence it was reinstating these teams to be able to maintain its own buildings where necessary, to build its own facilities, thus providing skills to offenders in accordance with their sentence plan.

Pretoria C-Max needed major repair and innovation including ablutions, electrical and making it habitable for offenders. In the Jali Commission report, there was a chapter that deals with this in depth. It was not constructed to rehabilitate offenders, but to dehumanise those kept in the facility. It needed a whole shift from the manner in which it was constructed. DCS does not just do a small part of repair and refurbish, but does the entire institution. Some of the facilities were built 100 years ago and have come to a point were they are no longer fit for human habitation. Vanrhynsdorp and Ceres were owned by DPW as the custodian of government buildings. DCS does not own any building. All buildings were government buildings and the agency appointed to be in charge of all facilities was DPW. Whatever work needed to be done on a building have to be sanctioned by DPW. Perhaps the mistake of DCS was not reporting these needs in time and therefore accepts and admits part of the blame. It then saw fit to submit a bid to Treasury to be able to monitor all the projects, and advise in a timely manner about poor workmanship and contractors that were not up to standard.

Mr Modise said Sondolo and Phezulu were appointed to put in turnstiles and control rooms in DCS facilities. There came a time when the contracts had to be cancelled as a result of some of the challenges experienced. DCS had to re-look at all facilities it had put control rooms and fences in and whether the fences were up to standard and how they can be integrated into an integrated approach for access and identification. DCS have to put in facilities that could identify contraband and block cell phones.

Currently DCS outsources the provision of food in eight management areas. The provision of food to offenders had changes brought about by the Jali Commission report which has a dedicated chapter on nutrition. It raised the question of whether DCS had the capacity to provide for its nutrition needs. DCS had to insource food as part of the rehabilitation of offenders and skilling them. In some centres, the offenders were cooking for themselves. DCS will do a study on what is better for it, between insourcing and outsourcing. Depending on the number of offenders in a facility, sometimes it is more economical to either insource or outsource.

Mr Modise explained that DCS indicates to DPW its needs and DPW draws the design of the facility, then it goes to tender which was another process. DCS had a period when it did not build any correctional facilities and it lost a lot of ground. It was trying to come up with a plan going forward, starting with the national head office and regional offices that should have been built five years ago taking into account the budgetary constraints and the economic climate.

Mr Ndlela, DCS Deputy Commissioner: Facilities, replied that DCS was on track with spending in this current financial year. The 96 posts were to ensure there was proper project management and monitoring by DCS to raise red flags when projects started going off track. DCS was satisfied that MSW had the capacity, skills and expertise to do the work that should have been outsourced to DPW. The R196 million Port Elizabeth project was for a new contract until completion. DCS had project management meetings with DPW and the challenges it noted to the Committee were always raised in such forums. Departments were autonomous in their nature and DCS did not play a role in who gets awarded a contract and this might be the role of the Chief Procurement Officer. Due diligence was a responsibility of DPW and whether it was done and how it is done was outside the scope of DCS engagement with DPW.

Ms Nontsikelelo Jolingana, DCS Chief Operating Officer, said DPW calls upon the guarantor when a contactor gets liquidated. In cases where DPW evaluates that the contractor will not complete a project, another service provider gets appointed. It becomes an issue between DPW and the guarantor on how they recover the money. The 99% completed facilities were about 50% occupied. In certain cases, it was not occupied because there has to be a total handover. Overcrowding remains a challenge for DCS and many facilities were overcrowded.

Mr Modise said that Minister Masutha had requested a meeting with the Minister of Public Works together with the Auditor-General to have a serious engagement on DCS facilities, why they had not been completed and what DCS needs to see going forward.

The Chairperson said such a meeting of principals must be held regularly. Members want to see a radical social economic transformation and DCS can play a role. DCS has observed that offenders were becoming younger and 70% of the population were young people who were just incarcerated. This caused them not to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into their community. There were state farms that were under-utilised and DCS can produce food for itself, for schools and hospitals and poor people. It cannot be incarceration in the old manner. DCS must come back with a report on the program for the plough-back campaign as announced by Minister Masutha.

Mr Selfe said in November 2012 a DCS presentation to the Committee stated that a cost benefit analysis of insourcing and outsourcing nutrition requirements would be done with the aim of coming up with recommendations for the nutritional requirements of DCS. 196 posts were identified for kitchens supervisors, section heads, cooks, caterers, dieticians, boiler makers for the long-term commodity catering of DCS which should have been concluded by March 2013. There was a self-imposed urgency to renew the BOSASA contract as inmates will go hungry. He asked if the cost benefit analysis was completed.

Mr Smith said it might be difficult for DCS to come up with solutions for providing fresh produce for schools, prisons and hospitals. This was a policy matter and the Members must have a political debate on the core business of DCS.

Ms Jolingana replied that it will be an important route for the Members to take. There was a decision to outsource but by 2012, the kitchens were not ready. The new posts were additional posts not currently catered for in the post establishment of DCS. The cost benefit analysis was done, but still had to be presented to the management and political heads of DCS.

The Chairperson asked what needs to be done to make the kitchens ready.

Mr Modise said for DCS to be able to do its work properly, some sort of engagement needed to be done on the core business of DCS and what it was expected to do and the capacity needed for it to perform optimally in achieving its set objectives. DCS has inmates with very different needs that needed to be attended to do. At times DCS is constrained by what exactly it must do - whether to incarcerate, to rehabilitate, to provide food, to teach, to provide health care workers. If DCS is given the task of incarceration and rehabilitation then it will be fine and it shall be most happy – while other functions will be performed by other government departments.

The Chairperson said government has clusters and such discussion must start there. The cluster must ask Social Development how it can assist with issues that are not DCS core business. Government was one and Ministers were collectively responsible for delivery of government projects. The Committee Members and DCS were concerned about the same issues and will work together towards helping the Department. In the past, people were being arrested and put to work as farm labourers. While DCS cannot behave as it did in the past, the question was whether DCS could create opportunities on the farms to skill young people to produce food, rather than just incarcerating young people and giving them breakfast and lunch.

The meeting was adjourned
 

Share this page: