Department of Correctional Services on its 2016 Strategic & Annual performance plans

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Justice and Correctional Services

12 April 2016
Chairperson: Dr M Motshekga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Document missing: Department of Correctional Services 2016 Strategic & Annual performance plan [email info@pmg.org.za]

A delegation from the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) presented its 2016/2017 Annual Performance Plan for 2016/2017 and 2016 Estimates of National Expenditure, including its vision, mandate and strategic goals. Its five programmes covered administration, incarceration, rehabilitation, care, and social reintegration. The budgetary allocations per programme and region were provided, along with details of vacancies and the educational training of correctional officers.

Members sought clarification of the role of spiritual care givers to inmates, as well as the DCS’s efforts to combat racism, sexism, rape, sodomy, and other violent crimes in prisons. They asked the delegation about the organisational structure of the DCS, progress on the reintegration of inmates into society, and the modalities of internal audit. A Member queried the budget allocations for regional offices, while another expressed displeasure at the DCS’s failure to provide a report on information communication technology (ICT) as requested by the Committee at its last meeting with the DCS.

Several members expressed concern at overcrowding in detention centres and the prevalence of litigation against the DCS, and asked about the Department’s role in crime prevention and efforts to block cell phone usage in prisons. Some members advised the DCS to explore means by which offenders could contribute to the maintenance of facilities.

The DCS National Commissioner promised to provide the Committee with information on spiritual care givers. He admitted that violent crimes were yet to be eliminated in prisons due to poor facilities and a weak institutional culture on the part of correctional officers. He described how the DCS was inculcating human rights values in its training programmes, and in its awareness programmes in schools. There were consultations with role players regarding the DCS’s organisational structure and efforts to achieve unqualified audits. He acknowledged that lawyers and inmates were taking on the DCS over delays in addressing queries, parole time periods, and overcrowding. Measures were being taken to prevent unauthorised cell phone usage by inmates. The Department was working hard to further reduce remand detention numbers from 44 000 to 30 000.

Meeting report

Briefing by Department of Correctional Services

Mr Joseph Katenga Chief Deputy Commissioner: Strategic Management, Department of Correctional Services (DCS), presented the annual performance plan for 2016/2017, and explained its strategic goals as:

Goal 1: Effective management of remand detention processes in order to contribute to a fair and just criminal justice system.

Goal 2: Incarceration of sentenced offenders in safe, secure and humane facilities, with provision for healthcare needs and effective rehabilitation programmes in order to enable their integration into society after their release.

Goal 3: Successful re-integration of offenders, parolees, and probationers into the society through the provision of rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes.

He said that the DCS’s Strategic Plan for 2015-2020 had been tabled in March 2015, while the Annual Performance Plan for 2016/2017 had been tabled on 11 March 2016.

Mr Nick Ligege, Chief Financial Officer, presented the DCS’s Estimate of National Expenditure (ENE) for 2016. The reduced allocations for 2016/19 are:

  • R21 577 billion for 2016/17
  • R23 049 billion for 2017/18
  • R24 701 billion for 2018/19

The various programmes that made up this budget were:

Programme 1: Administration. This programme has a budget of R12.533 billion over the medium term and a funded head count of 7 078 posts. It aims to provide strategic leadership, management and support services to the DCS.

Programme 2: Incarceration. This programme seeks to provide appropriate services and infrastructure for inmates. It has a budget of R43.8 billion over the medium term and a funded head count of 28 322 posts.

Programme 3: Rehabilitation. This programme provides offenders with need-based interventions to facilitate their rehabilitation and social reintegration. It has a budget of R4.2 billion over the medium term and a funded head count of 2 394 posts.

Programme 4: Care.  This programme provides needs-based care services aimed at maintaining the personal well-being of all inmates. It has a budget of R6.1 billion and a head count of 2 003 posts.  

Programme 5: Social reintegration. This programme focuses on offenders’ preparation for release, effective supervision of offenders placed under the system of community corrections, and facilitation of their social reintegration. It has a budget of R2.7 million and a funded head count of 2 209 posts.

Mr Ligege explained the budgetary allocations per region and per programme (see attachment).

The DCS had a funded personnel strength of 42 006, with 3 771 vacancies as at the end of February 2016. An additional 223 posts were funded from vacancy savings. These posts were mainly contractual appointments for certified learners from training colleges for future employment in permanent posts when they became vacant. Learners were trained in the Correction Services Learnership to National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 4, with the prospect of employment as entry level Correction Officers.

Discussion

The Chairperson asked about the end goal of the DCS’s activities in the light of the National Development Plan’s (NDP’s) objective of a safe society. He requested concrete plans and benchmarks. For example, what did spiritual care-givers offer to inmates? What did the DCS do to combat racism and sexism? How did it inculcate human rights values in inmates? It was not enough for the DCS to create jobs; it must assist in moral regeneration. He expressed concern at the negative perceptions of the DCS’s integrity. There was a need to streamline the services provided by pastors to inmates. The DCS should work towards a safe society.

Mr J Selfe (DA) sought clarification of the projections for the inmate and supervision case population funded in the 2016 ENE. He suggested that there was a mismatch in the projected number of inmates and projected funding.

Mr B Bongo (ANC) commented that the DCS was heading in the right direction. However, he queried the budgets for regional offices and requested clarity on the organisational structure of the DCS. He also sought clarity on the quarterly performance indicators, a specific explanation for vacancies, and the modalities of internal audit. He expressed a desire for more engagement on the public works programme, suggesting that offenders could contribute to the maintenance of detention facilities using their professional skills.

The Chairperson observed that Parliamentary researchers could have highlighted some of the issues raised by Mr Bongo, so the delegation could address them in good time.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) noted that the original mandate of the DCS was to ensure healthy and safe prison facilities. However, not much seemed to have been done by the DCS to combat racism, rape, and sodomy in prisons. She asked why the DCS was not functioning in this regard.

Ms M Mothapo (ANC) echoed the sentiments of Mr Bongo and Ms Khawula. She noted that the DCS no longer catered for prisons alone. She said that the Committee had requested a full information communication technology (ICT) report from the DCS at the last meeting, and this had not been complied with. She noted irregularities in the intake of learners. She sought to know plans to reduce audit qualifications to zero and what was being done to address the issue of coloured uniforms for DCS staff.

The Chairperson remarked that a rehabilitation figure of 68% was low. He asked about the DCS’s progress on reintegration of inmates into society and its partnership with other departments.

Mr M Maila (ANC) said that overcrowding in prisons was not solely a DCS problem, and asked what other role-players were doing about this. The issue of the integrated justice system had been raised with the Justice Department, which had promised that the DCS would be involved. Had this been done?

Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) remarked that lawyers were targeting the DCS in lawsuits. He referred to the inability of some inmates to appear before the parole board. He asked how much was allocated for litigation, how human resources handled staff turnover, the issue of fencing the regional offices, the number of consultants in the DCS, measures to reduce crimes in prisons, and the issue of cell phone usage in detention centres.

The Chairperson said that Mr Mpumlwana’s questions could be put before the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) tomorrow. The Committee might not be able to regulate the infrastructure at the regional offices.

Mr Mpumlwana responded that regional officials could be invited to appear before the Committee.

Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC) sought details of how vacancies were being filled, clarity on achieving a clean audit, and fiscal accountability in the provinces. She said that South African society was riddled with crime. Accordingly, she asked which of the DCS’s community projects aimed at the reintegration of former inmates into society, its envisaged role in crime prevention, how the number of remand detainees and crime in prisons had been reduced, and what the IT unit was doing to block cell phone usage in prisons. She suggested that inmates could be used to contribute to infrastructural maintenance such as painting.

The Chairperson advised the DCS to cultivate self-reliance and prioritisation measures in order to maximise its resources. He further advised the delegation to submit reports on questions they were unable to address now.

Mr Zach Modise, National Commissioner: DCS, admitted that the issues raised by Committee members were crucial. He promised to provide the Committee with information on spiritual care givers, given the difficulty of obtaining first-hand information from regional offices. However, he explained that spiritual care givers were doing a tremendous job. He acknowledged that the DCS had emerged as a result of gangster activities and the gross abuse of human rights in prisons. Violent crimes were yet to be eliminated in prisons due to a poor institutional culture on the part of correctional officers and poor facilities. Accordingly, the DCS was inculcating human rights values in its educational training programmes. He acknowledged that institutional challenges arose from inadequate facilities and consequent overcrowding, and sought the Committee’s assistance to resolve this. He promised to engage more with other role-players to meet the DCS’s mandate. For example, the DCS was working with the National Director of Prosecutions and the Justice Department to put up a task team to reduce the number of remand detainees.

The Commissioner said he was unable to present concrete indications of the strategic direction of the DCS. He promised to provide information to the Committee on the role of the Parole Board.

He said that the DCS engaged with schools on awareness programmes. There were officials working in incarceration and custodial programmes, and the challenge was to achieve better integration with their colleagues on social reintegration. The Department of Treasury had been contacted for assistance.

Furthermore, the DCS had been in consultation on its organisational structure, especially whether to retain its four layers. These layers comprised correctional centres in localities or towns, areas, regions and the national office. The bulk of resources were at centre levels, and Members had been correct to point out that 72% of the budget went to the centre, where the bulk of the training occurred. Uniforms had been distributed to officials in regional offices, although there were problems with quantity and quality. For example, some officials had no shoes, while others had patched trousers.

The Commissioner said that the DCS sought to achieve unqualified audits by applying consequences for non-compliance with targets and by promoting accountability. Also, it was seeking internal or self-audit, automation in the information management system, training of officials on the submission of reports, capacitating officials, asset management, and promotion of integrity.

The DCS was striving to inculcate human rights values in its operations. Figures on litigation were not available now, and would be provided later. It was true that lawyers were taking on the DCS, and this was often due to a delay in attending to queries. Some offenders also took the DCS to court over parole time periods. Offenders sentenced to life imprisonment often sued the DCS because they were legally well-informed. The DCS was trying to clear the backlog in parole figures. Overcrowding was a serious problem and contributed to litigation against the DCS.

Mr Modise apologised for not providing the ICT report and promised to send it later that day. Measures were being taken to monitor unauthorised cell phone usage. The DCS was striving to put in cell phone detection systems in all new detention buildings. Some offenders had three to four cell phones, which they used to intimidate some witnesses and victims of crimes. Some inmates had even called the Commissioner on the phone to complain about their paroles or conditions of detention. This was a serious problem, for which the DCS was seeking help from the Acting Commissioner of Police and other security agencies. It was working hard to bring down remand detention numbers. The number of remanded persons had been brought down from around 70 000 to 80 000 few years ago, to around 44 000. There were plans to bring it down further to 30 000.

The Chairperson thanked the delegation for their detailed presentation. He also thanked the Commissioner for his responses to the concerns expressed by Members, and closed the meeting.

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