The Committee’s Content Advisor provided a briefing on the Department of Correctional Service’s constitutional and legislative mandate and the interplay between the Department’s strategic documents and the National Development Plan and Medium Term Strategic Framework outcomes relevant to the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster.
Currently, South Africa had 243 correctional and remand facilities, with an inmate population of 155 000. Around 111 000 were sentenced offenders, while 44 700 were remand detainees. According to the Committee’s legacy report, on average 15 to 20% were in custody, because they could not afford bail. Further, 27 000 of the inmate population were characterised as ‘youth’.
The impact of minimum sentences had been demonstrated by the 1 250% increase in prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment, leaving the number at 6 998. Over the period 1995 to 2013, there had been a steady increase in over-crowding, starting at 121% and growing to 139% in 2013, despite the President’s special remission which had seen 45 000 inmates being released.
The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), through Outcome 3, recognised that South Africa had an unacceptably high level of serious and violent crime, leading to people living in fear. This impacted negatively on economic development and undermined peoples’ well-being. Therefore, government sought to reduce re-offending and recidivism by improving rehabilitation programmes for detainees and reintegration for parolees.
The Committee’s Researcher dealt with the overall budget allocation to the Department, going through each of the five programmes in the Department, detailing the proportion of the allocation, expenditure trends, key targets and matters for the Committee’s attention. The DCS had received R20.6 billion, constituting 13% of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster budget and 3% of the total national Budget. The DCS budget had grown by R895.8 million, compared to 2014/15. A total of R14 billion (68% of the total budget) had been channelled towards compensation of employees, which indicated the labour intensiveness of the DCS.
Concerns which should be raised with the Department included the 1.23% reduction in the budget allocation for the Rehabilitation programme. What had informed this reduction, as this was one of the most important programmes under the DCS? Further, the Committee should inquire what the results of the Ministerial Task Team investigation were on offenders serving sentences of less than 24 months without a correctional sentence plan. The DCS should indicate its plans for the retention and attraction of scarce skills, such as psychologists and social workers. As the NDP highlighted the need to focus on youth, the DCS should indicate what plans it had to ensure youth offenders were involved in rehabilitation programmes to reduce recidivism.
The Committee should also request the DCS to provide a status report on the roll out of electronic monitoring, including obstacles and the outcome of the pilot programme. Electronic monitoring was important, because it reduced the strain on correctional centres, and if it worked properly then the judiciary would have faith in the DCS to monitor offenders effectively, which would lead to fewer incarcerations imposed, in favour of community-based sentences.
Sector Analysis Budget Vote 18: Briefing by Content Advisor
Mr Zakhele Hlophe, Content Advisor to the Committee, said he had been asked to give a sector analysis of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). The DCS played an important role in South Africa’s criminal justice system. It played a supporting role to the courts, police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), by inter alia detaining remand detainees and detaining convicted criminals. Its primary roles were to detain remand detainees and sentenced offenders with custodial sentences, to rehabilitate sentenced offenders and attempt social reintegration.
Mr Hlophe said the DCS operated in terms of several rights in the Bill of Rights, including the rights of arrested and detained persons under section 35, human dignity under section 10, the right to freedom and security of the person under section 12, and children’s rights under section 28. The DCS’s statutory mandate came from the Correctional Services Act 11 of 1998. This Act provided for, among others, the establishment, functions and control of the DCS, the custody of all detainees in conditions of human dignity, rights and obligations of detainees, and a correctional system and a system of community corrections. There were several other pieces of legislation which applied in the field of detainee treatment, particularly the Criminal Procedure Act, which dealt with the sentencing of convicted accused, the conversion of sentences to correctional supervision and the granting of parole under Chapter 28, and the regulation of victim involvement in decisions of parole boards. He highlighted that section 63A of the Criminal Procedure Act provided for the release of detainees on application by the head of a correctional facility to the court, where a detainee could not afford bail and did not pose a danger to society.
Mr Hlophe said currently South Africa had 243 correctional and remand facilities, with an inmate population of 155 000. Around 111 000 were sentenced offenders, while 44 700 were remand detainees. According to the Committee’s legacy report, on average 15 to 20% were in custody, because they could not afford bail. Further, 27 000 of the inmate population were characterised as ‘youth’.
Mr Hlophe said it was often asserted that South Africa had the highest prison population in the world, but looking at the statistics for inmate population per 100 000 inhabitants, South Africa did not feature even in the top 20. Looking at the total prisoner population, then South Africa was 11th in the world. However, South Africa did have the highest inmate population in Africa, followed by Ethiopia, which had approximately 55 000 fewer inmates. The reason for this was that there had been several legislative interventions since 1994 which had led to stricter bail conditions for schedule 5 and 6 crimes, and the introduction of minimum sentencing. The stricter requirements for bail saw more than a 100% increase in remand detainees over the period 1995 to 2004. The impact of minimum sentences had been demonstrated by the 1 250% increase in prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment, leaving the number at 6 998. Over the period 1995 to 2013, there had been a steady increase in over-crowding, starting at 121% and growing to 139% in 2013, despite the President’s special remission which had seen 45 000 inmates being released.
The previous Committee’s legacy report had indicated that “South Africa’s incarceration rate remained the highest in Africa and one of the highest in the world (at 139%, from 170% in 2002/03). Some correctional centres recorded levels of overcrowding greater than 200%. The conditions of incarceration at these centres, according to Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, were inhumane and did not comply with constitutional requirements governing detention.” Further, “the vast majority of correctional centres have outdated infrastructure which makes it impossible for the DCS to provide secure, safe and humane custody and supervision. This was as a result of poor working relations between the DCS and the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the latter’s failure to respond to DCS’s infrastructural needs”.
Mr Hlophe said he wanted to bring the case of Lee v the Minister of Correctional Services, heard by the Constitutional Court in 2012, to the attention of the Committee. The complainant in this case had contracted tuberculosis (TB) while in remand detention and had sued the Minister upon release. The Constitutional Court had held that the Minister was liable and it was important for prisoners to be detained in safe conditions where they would not contract such diseases. Therefore, the DCS was charged with taking steps to ensure there were healthy conditions for the inmates. This case could therefore open the DCS to further legal liability, where inmates contracted diseases during detention.
Mr Hlophe said the management areas were decentralised into six regions -- the Free State and Northern Cape; Western Cape; Eastern Cape; Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West; Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal. There were a further two training centres for officials in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
There were several aspects to the DCS’s policy framework focusing on the White Paper on Corrections (2005) which aimed to capacitate the DCS to function as a security institution responsible for the promotion of public safety by breaking the cycle of crime. It also aimed to develop the DCS into an institution of rehabilitation and social reintegration, while promoting correction as a societal responsibility. The previous Committee had indicated that as the White Paper had been introduced nearly 10 years earlier, its effectiveness and efficiency should be reviewed. This process was due to have been completed by the end of 2013, but this had not been done by the time the previous Committee had left office.
Mr Hlophe turned to the role-players in terms of the Correctional Services Act. Because it accounted to the Committee, an important player was the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS,) which was geared towards ensuring humane detention conditions and dealt with complaints from detainees. The previous Committee had raised concerns about the effectiveness of JICS, recommending that it be restructured and strengthened to provide for improved monitoring. Further, it had reported that certain legislative amendments may be required to ensure JICS’s independence and effectiveness. Other role-players included the National Council for Correctional Services, Correctional Supervision, the Parole Board, the Parole Review Board and the Medical Parole Advisory Board.
Medium-Term Strategic Framework and the DCS
Mr Hlophe said the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) was a government-wide strategic plan for 2014-2019. Its main objective was the implementation of the National Development Plan’s (NDP’s) Vision 2030. Of the eight priority areas, the relevant one for the DCS was fighting crime and corruption. Outcome 3 was also relevant, as it sought to ensure that all people in South Africa were safe over the medium term.
The MTSF, through Outcome 3, recognised that South Africa had an unacceptably high level of serious and violent crime, leading to people living in fear. This impacted negatively on economic development and undermined peoples’ well-being. Therefore, government sought to reduce re-offending and recidivism by improving rehabilitation programmes for detainees and reintegration for parolees. The MTSF had targets specific to the DCS and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster under Outcome 3, including a reduction of contact crimes and improved perceptions of the levels of crime, and progress in reducing crime.
The NDP vision 2030 informed the MTSF and should be integrated into all departments’ strategic planning. Chapter 12: Building Safer Communities, also emphasised the need for people to feel safe. This would be achieved if there was a well-functioning system of criminal justice, in which all the various state institutions worked in synchronisation, with the most poignant aspect being safe incarceration. He mentioned the seven-point plan, because it also informed the NDP and MTSF. The significance of the above policy documents was that all DCS and JICS planning must be linked to them, including the strategic plans, budget and annual performance plans (APP), and the Committee must monitor this.
Mr Hlophe said the DCS had received a budget of R20.6 billion for 2015/16, which was projected to increase to R23 billion in the medium term. 81% of this budget had been allocated to the Incarceration and administration programmes, while only 10% was dedicated to the rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes. These were very important programmes for dealing with recidivism.
Summary and Analysis of DCS Budget: Briefing by Committee Researcher
Mr Mpho Mathabathe, Researcher for the Committee, said the presentation would include an overview of the DCS budget, a summary of the key audit findings for 2013/14 and a broad analysis of the allocations, as well as allocations to each of the five programmes within the Vote, and targets outlined in the 2015/16 APP.
He said the DCS’ budget constituted 13% of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster budget. The DCS received R20.6 billion, constituting 3% of the total national Budget. The DCS budget had grown by R895.8 million, compared to 2014/15. A total of R14 billion (68% of the total budget) had been channelled towards compensation of employees, which indicated the labour intensiveness of the DCS. It was noted that R178 million had been earmarked for perimeter security fencing and intercom installations. Further, that R100 million had been created for the creation of an additional bed and support facilities at Standerton, although this was still at the tender stage.
Mr Mathabathe spoke to the key findings of the Auditor General for 2013/14, particularly as the findings for 2014/15 had not been publicised. Among the issues highlighted had been expenditure management, given that effective steps had not been taken to prevent irregular or fruitless expenditure, which had stood at R187 million and R1.1 million respectively. The internal audit function had not submitted reports detailing performance against the annual audit plan to the audit committee in terms of Treasury Regulation 3.2.7 (d). Further, key positions were vacant in the DCS for significant periods of time, being occupied by employees in an acting capacity. Lastly, funded vacant posts were not always filled within 12 months, as required by Public Service Regulations. It would therefore be important to for the Committee to follow up on these issues, to discern whether there was an improvement compared to the DCS’s last report.
The administration programme had been allocated R 3.69 billion -- a 2.3% increase from 2014/15. This was the second largest programme in the DCS, consuming 18% of its budget. This allocation was largely dedicated to compensation of employees (73.8%), goods and services (23%) and computer services (3.8%). While this programme had managed to spend 100% of its budget for 2013/14, in the third quarter of 2014/15 expenditure was at 73.3% which was 0.5% higher than projected spending.
The key targets, which should be looked at for historical performance, were the workplace skills plan and the filling of vacancies. The DCS planned to train 15 000 employees in 2013/14 and had managed to train 21 863. The latter target had not been achieved as only 56.9% of vacancies had been filled in 2013/14, while the target was 97%. The Department should provide detailed plans on how the vacancy rate for 2015/16 would be achieved, including timeframes. The DCS should also provide an update on all outstanding Information Communication Technology (ICT) projects managed by the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), as this was a priority area under the Seven-Point Plan. Further, vacancies in the ICT branch should be identified, detailing how long this had been the case and when it would be remedied. Lastly, the DCS should indicate the amount of outstanding debt in dispute between the DCS and SITA, and how it was to be resolved.
Mr Mathabathe said the incarceration programme had been allocated R13.08 billion, an increase of 6.35% compared to 2014/15. This programme had consistently received the largest allocation, and it had taken up 62% of the budget this financial year. Spending over the medium term would reach R14.4 billion, due to an additional allocation for improved conditions of service. Further, spending would focus on upgrading the 16 correctional facilities, increasing the total bed space by 4 748 in 2017/18. The security operations sub-programme had been allocated R6.6 billion, which was 50% of the allocation. The facilities sub-programme had been allocated R3.8 billion, which was 29% of the total allocation. The last major sub-programme was offender management which had been allocated R1.8 billion, or 14%. Remand detention had been allocated R822 million, translating to only 6%.
The key targets for the incarceration programme included the number of assaults, unnatural deaths, escapes, the increase in bed space and reduction of over-crowding. The concerns which the Committee should raise with the DCS included requesting an update on the procurement of uniforms for remand detainees, specifically which centres had received such uniforms, who the service provider was, and how much had been budgeted. Further, the DCS should provide an update on progress with the construction of the Ceres and Vanrhynsdorp correctional centres.
Mr Mathabathe moved on to the programme allocation for Rehabilitation. This was the second lowest allocation, at R1.1 billion, which was a decrease of 1.23% from 2014/15. Spending over the medium term would reach R1.4 billion, due to an increased number of offenders taking part in adult education and training programmes, with participation growing from 11 007 in 2015/16 to 13 319 in 2017/18. Expenditure for 2012/13 had been 87%, which had improved to 95.2% in 2013/14. In the third quarter of 2014/15, expenditure for this programme had been behind by 9.6%, leading to the possibility of under-spending.
Key targets under this programme included an increased percentage of offenders involved in correctional programmes targeted at offending behaviour. This had been set at 68%, as the DCS had exceeded the 2013/14 target of 60% by 4%. A further target was to increase the percentage of offenders involved in further education and training mainstream programmes, which had been set at 67% for 2015/16.
He said the Committee ought to raise the following concerns with the Department, including whether the DCS had resolved the funding challenges from the skills fund for the further education and training college programmes, in order to be able to meet its target. The budget allocation for the Rehabilitation programme had been reduced by 1.23%, and the Committee should inquire as to what had informed this reduction, as this was one of the most important programmes under the DCS. Further, it should inquire what the results of the Ministerial Task Team investigation were on offenders serving sentences of less than 24 months without a correctional sentence plan. The DCS should indicate its plans for the retention and attraction of scarce skills, such as psychologists and social workers. Lastly, as the NDP highlighted the need to focus on youth, the DCS should indicate what plans it had to ensure youth offenders were involved in rehabilitation programmes to reduce recidivism.
Mr Mathabathe moved on to the Care programme, which received an allocation of R1.74 billion -- an increase of 2.89% from 2014/15. This programme took up only 8.7% of the total budget. The spending focus over the medium term would be on increasing the percentage of inmates tested for HIV from 68.7% to 90% by 2017/18. The Committee should commend the Department for increasing the projected TB cure rate to 85% in 2017/18, while keeping an eye on progress, because this had been highlighted in the State of the Nation Address. He noted that expenditure for this programme in 2013/14 was 100% of its budget, while in the third quarter of 2014/15 there was already overspending of 3.2% over projected spending level, and a close eye should be kept on the expenditure in the fourth quarter.
A number of targets had been highlighted for 2015/16, including an increase in the percentage of inmates tested for HIV to 80%, an increase in the percentage of HIV positive inmates on anti-retrovirals to 96%, and an increase in the percentage of inmates on TB treatment to 85%. The Committee should focus on the fight against TB in correctional centres, by checking what plans were in place to realise this priority, and what the existing initiatives were. Further, the Committee should enquire what had been planned to ensure scarce skills such as psychologists and pharmacists were attracted and retained, particularly in remote areas.
Mr Mathabathe turned to the Social Reintegration Programme, which had received an allocation of R891.2 million, constituting 4.3% of the total budget -- an increase of 0.55% compared to 2014/15. The medium-term spending focus was on the roll out of electronic monitoring, which would see the number of people being electronically monitored grow from 500 to 1 500 by 2017/18. Expenditure trends were positive under this programme, from 90% in 2012/13 to 100 in 2014/15. The expenditure of the programme in the third quarter of 2014/15 had been 5.6% lower than projected and translated to an under-spending of R49.5 million, which the Committee should inquire about.
The targets for 2015/16 in this programme included increasing the percentage of probationers without violation to 80%, increasing the number of victims participating in restorative justice to 6 000, with 76 985 offenders, increasing the percentage of parole without violation to 95% reintegration, and parolees reintegrated through halfway houses to 79%. The Committee ought to request the DCS to provide the formula for how the DCS determined the number of victims and offenders to participate in restorative justice, because if the targets were looked at from a layman’s perspective, having 6 000 victims and 76 985 offenders participating constituted a misalignment. The Committee should also request the DCS to provide a status report on the roll out of electronic monitoring, including obstacles and the outcome of the pilot programme. Electronic monitoring was important, because it reduced the strain on correctional centres, and if it worked properly then the judiciary would have faith in the DCS to monitor offenders effectively, which would lead to fewer incarcerations imposed, in favour of community-based sentences.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) said he had previously thought the research team was good, and now this had been confirmed. He also hoped the DCS was listening, so that by the time the Committee heard from it, they had prepared responses to the concerns raised.
Mr M Maila (ANC) also welcomed the report and felt it gave the Members clarity.
The Chairperson agreed and felt it gave a base from which to engage with the DCS over the coming days.
The meeting was adjourned.