The Committee met to discuss their Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports (BRRR) on the Departments of Justice and Constitutional Development and Correctional Services. Both were adopted with minor amendments. In the case of the Justice BRRR, there was some disagreement about the scope of the recommendations to be made about Legal Aid South Africa concerning their partnerships with Chapter Nine institutions. In the case of the Correctional Services BRRR, the best approach for rehabilitating and re-integrating offenders was thoroughly discussed, and a finding was added addressing the ongoing failure of the DCS to spend its capital budget on additional bed space.
Justice and Constitutional Development Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report
Mr W Horn (DA) said that the wording of Point 22.3 should not imply that the Committee were in a position to give instructions to Legal Aid South Africa (LASA). While the Committee ought to encourage them to partner with Chapter Nine Institutions, the wording was problematic. He suggested that Point 22.4 should be changed to reflect that it was not only men who were guilty of child maintenance non-payment. The word “offend” was also a problem, he said, because these people were not charged with anything. Finally, Mr Horn observed that there were already maintenance offices within the department who assist parents with non-maintenance-paying spouses, and there was a real danger of placing too great a burden on LASA if their duties were to be expanded like this.
Ms G Breytenbach (DA) agreed that the wording of Point 22.4 should be gender-neutral.
Ms M Mothapo (ANC) made the suggestion that Point 22.4 be rephrased as “the Committee would also like to see LASA assisting the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) when the outcomes of the investigations are challenged in a court of law.”
Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC) supported this phrasing. She was concerned that the gender transformation agenda should not be left behind. The CGE had a very low budget compared to other Chapter Nine institutions, which meant that it could not afford to engage in expensive legal battles.
Dr Motshekga sought a compromise. He said the report should encourage LASA to find a balance between criminal and civil matters, and mention maintenance as an example.
Ms Pilane-Majake said that whatever the choice of words was, it should not seem like an instruction. Perhaps they could say “LASA to consider partnering...”
Mr B Bongo (ANC) did not did not think the language needed to be gender-neutral.
Ms Pilane-Majake added that it was common knowledge that women were the primary victims of maintenance non-payment. Broadening the scope to include men also raised a question about affordability. The CGE had a “mickey-mouse” budget of R62m.
Mr S Swart (ANC) worried that the phrase “Chapter Nine institutions such as...” effectively meant all Chapter Nine institutions, and as such was too broad.
Ms Pilane-Majake agreed.
Dr Motshekga suggested the phrase “LASA to consider partnering with the CGE,” as this was where the greatest need lay.
Mr Swart said that they had not actually had any submissions to that effect.
Dr Motshekga suggested that Point 22.5 could be changed to read “...and to support the expansion of its civil work, especially in maintenance and related matters.” This would avoid any implication that LASA was being asked to fund Chapter Nine institutions.
Ms Pilane-Majake supported this.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) asked for confirmation that Points 22.3 and 22.4 were to be removed, and “related matters” was to be added in Point 22.5.
Dr Motshekga confirmed this. He said this expansion could take the form of advice centres and paralegals to increase the capacity of LASA to handle these matters.
Mr Horn gave his support to the suggested amendments.
Mr M Maila (ANC) asked whether “related matters” also covered land claims.
Dr Motshekga said that land claims fell under civil work.
Mr Mpumlwana suggested that land claims should be mentioned in Point 22.5 alongside maintenance.
This addition was generally supported.
Dr Motshekga said that a meeting should be arranged with LASA, the CGE and the Land Claims Commission to work out the details.
Mr Horn supported Point 22.6 in principle, but felt that it implied an unfair focus on the Public Protector. There were other entities in the department who were worse transgressors.
Mr Bongo disagreed. He thought that the wording captured the Committee's deliberations and the Auditor-General's advice. He did not want the issues at the Public Protector to escalate.
Dr Motshekga was not willing to re-open the discussion that had happened the week before, and he believed that Point 22.6 reflected the outcome of that discussion. He stressed that they were not trying to penalise the Public Protector, but to support it. He asked the Committee content advisor, Ms Christine Silkstone to read out the amendments and put the report to the Committee for adoption.
The Committee adopted the report.
Correctional Services Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)
With reference to Point 11.3.3 on rehabilitation and re-integration, Mr Maila said that broadening the concept of halfway houses should be considered. This area of Corrections was somewhat neglected.
Dr Motshekga said that rehabilitation included skills development and should take place within prisons. Halfway houses were needed to support inmates in terms of matters such as alcohol and drug addiction. He thought these two were both important but should not be conflated.
Mr Maila explained that his main concern was that prisons were becoming too much like fortresses without any concern for post-sentence re-integration.
Dr Motshekga agreed. What was needed was a holistic human reconstruction and development programme.
Mr Horn said that a comment should be added addressing the ongoing failure of the DCS to spend its capital budget on additional bed space.
Dr Motshekga agreed. He put the report to the Committee for adoption.
The Committee adopted the report.
The meeting was adjourned.