Department of Correctional Services & Judicial Inspectorate 2015/16 audit outcomes: Auditor-General briefing

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Justice and Correctional Services

11 October 2016
Chairperson: Dr M Motshekga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister and Deputy Ministers of Justice and Correctional Services attended and briefed the Committee prior to annual performance reports being presented by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ), the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS). .

The Minister, in his opening remarks, alluded to the transformation journey of the Departments, driven by changes in attitudes and systems around justice and rehabilitation of offenders. New management systems were in place to enhance the effectiveness and efficacy of the departments. He highlighted the proposed bills that the Ministry intended to bring to Parliament, stressing the Traditional Courts Bill, a Cyber-Crime Bill,and legislation to criminalise hate speech and racism. Such social evils were perpetuating inequality, poverty and oppression. The Minister and the Chairperson alluded to the ongoing debate about whether colonial legacies of Roman-Dutch and British law systems should be replaced and emphasised that it was very important to make the law relevant to its citizens and to open up justice to all and meet the aims and ideals of the Constitution. Priorities of the Department had included improvements to the nature and functioning of courts, progression of women in the profession, better enforcement mechanisms, planning and opening of new High and Small Claims Courts. The Department had achieved an unqualified audit but with findings.

Members were appreciative of the briefing and urged the new Director General to ensure that the Department continued along a good trajectory. Members had differing views whether the Traditional Courts Bill would meet the needs of communities, pointing out that some communities had no traditional leaders, and cautioned that the same mistakes around an interpretation of traditional law that resulted in too much power being vested in traditional leaders should be avoided. They questioned what was being done about student demonstrations and agreed that vandalism could not be seen as acceptable. They commented favourably on the new courts but asked for an update on the court in Mpumalanga, were critical of the disciplinary actions against some judges that had dragged on for so long and wanted to know when legislation was likely to be brought. Other issues included concerns around the vacancy rate and queries when vernacular languages were likely to be used in courts.

The briefing by the National Commissioner of DCS noted that overcrowding remained a substantial problem in correctional centres at around 34%. The audit result was an improvement but management was working closely with the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) to ensure that all matters raised were being dealt with. Challenges included the overall situation of inadequate infrastructure and centres, too little budget and difficulty in prioritising. The Department also highlighted lack of staff and staff stress and ageing infrastructure that meant that in the rainy season some facilities were unable to be used. The DCS achieved 32% of targets but had made good progress towards achieving on others. AGSA had qualified some of the programmes on performance, saying that there was insufficient reported performance information to back up claims and figures. DCS was introducing automated systems which it hoped would assist in generating quicker reports. Performance agreements now specifically spoke to management of performance information.  Members commented that perhaps the DCS should look at automating far more of its processes. They sought clarity on the overcrowding, and wondered if the figures were entirely accurate and whether perhaps the DCS should not opt for more automation. They also questioned the staff structure.  Members asked whether increased escapes were linked to overcrowding. They pointed out that the vacancy rate had risen, and asked the effect of the budget cuts. The Enterprise Structure was explained. A brief indicator of building progress was given. It was acknowledged that the vacancy levels had risen as a result of service terminations. DCS was working on a new policy to allow it to employ retired people. Members discussed the best way to approach the budget cuts. Members asked whether the Committee should become involved in setting some of the priorities, suggesting that there was more than providing food, warmth and lighting and health services. Members were also concerned about the huge costs of services and water, which led to side discussions on the relative trauma of victims.   The financial report noted that over the years, the DCS had been doing virements of money intended for compensation of employees to cover food, fleet and services. But because of further cuts this year, it was in the red, exacerbated by a large amount of irregular expenditure. Members urged that the Department should engage with National Treasury.

Finally the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services presented a report, although several of the slides were not presented. In this year it planned to launch a new logo and to adopt a new corporate identity and it wanted to concentrate on outreach and sensitising the public. Much of the discussion centred on assaults to and by inmates, commenting also on the influence of gang violence and tit-for-tat revenge assaults, and mental illness. Some Members were taken aback at the high percentage of apparently mentally ill people in some facilities, whilst others asked what line was taken when the JICS was advised of mentally ill patients, whether they were given the option of being seen by traditional healers and what direction was being taken. They urged the JICS to make itself better known, and said that perhaps key discussions on priorities had to be held.
 

Meeting report

Chairperson's opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister and Deputy Ministers, the newly-appointed Director General of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr Vusi Madonsela, and the Commissioner of Correctional Services Mr Zach Modise. 

Briefing by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development  Annual Report 2015/2016
Adv Michael Masutha, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, noted that the reports he would present resulted from a concerted effort of the entire Department and Ministry, and he acknowledged the input of the Deputy Ministers, Directors General and Heads of Department. He was pleased to introduce Mr Vusi Madonsela, one of the longest serving Directors-General in government. He also noted that the new Head of the Special Investigating Unit, Mr Andy Mothibi, had considerable experience in risk and banking. Advocate JB Skosana had been permanently appointed as Deputy Director General: Court Services in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, and Ms Gabriella La Foy was also a Deputy Director General. He noted that the presence of Mr Justice van der Westhuizen was adding value to the Ministry.

The Justice Crime Prevention and Security portfolio  had tabled ten reports on performance. The Auditor-General South Africa issued an unqualified audit report, which showed progress in the financial management of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD or the Department). The Minister highlighted other achievements around additional courts.

He also congratulated Legal Aid South Africa for the role it played in assisting the Department in legal issues, this was also acknowledged by the Auditor General.

The National Prosecuting Authority and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) had taken 482 officials before disciplinary committees, and the services of 75 people were terminated for misconduct. The SIU continued to fight corruption in the Departments and was committed to rooting out corruption and maladministration. A Forum of Heads of Department has been established with the aim of aligning plans and to make a collective endeavour.

The Minister stated that the heart of the transformation journey of the Department is founded in the Constitution. Parliament passed 160 Bills on shaping and reshaping institutions, and a prime example was legislation to do with the court. The Department envisions a renaissance of the laws in line with the Constitution. Laws should be guided by the values enshrined in the Constitution. The Ministry was intending to table a number of bills in Parliament – including the Traditional Courts Bill, legislation on the criminalisation of racism and hate speech; Cyber-crimes Bill. The Traditional Courts Bill seeks to recognise the significance of African traditional systems. He paid tribute to the efforts of Deputy Minister John Jeffery. Matters to be addressed would include the nature of the courts, the status of women, consensual nature of the courts and enforcement mechanisms. Other issues still to be addressed in other legislation would include regulation of the professions and consideration given to the need for paralegal services. Participation of the disabled was critical. A multi-sectoral system for court infrastructure across the provinces  The Minister also reiterated that the Department has also identified the need for Paralegal Services in order to address the regulation of the profession. The participation of the paraplegic members of society is critical for the Department.

The Department is in the efforts of establishing a Multi-Sectoral System with the courts. This affects all Provinces, in relation to court infrastructure. New courts are to be established where they had not existed before to make justice accessible to all citizens. The two areas targeted as pilot projects are Lepalale and Upington. The Minister had also taken further steps in creating 40 Small Claims Courts; 20 were already established and 7 would be rolled out in October 2016.

As far as rehabilitation of offenders was concerned, 94% of offenders, were enrolled in skills programmes. The percentage of offenders in Skills Programmes is 94% on 4168. There was a move to improve parole compliance and partnerships were important and included the Half Way House, which ideally the Department would like to see being renamed to commemorate the work of Councillor Nonhlanhla Mthembu. Finally, the Minister noted the greatest respect to this Committee for playing its important role of oversight.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and noted that Members were pleased to hear the efforts towards combatting of cyber-crime. The Minister's presentation was directly speaking to the needs of
society. He noted that Deputy Minister John Jeffery had been liaising with National Commissioner Zach Modise on the Half-Way House in Johannesburg. He was concerned about deepening moral degeneration in the country and the proliferation of social ills, which directly contributed to the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

He spoke to the importance of land restitution and noted that justice would never be achieved without equity in land, and equality. He did, however, believe that the Land Restitution legislation needed to be amended to address social ills. Racism and hate speech needed to be addressed, as they were intensifying.

Discussion
Ms M Mothapo (ANC) acknowledged that most of the issues that appeared in the oversight report had been addressed by the Department. The Traditional Courts Bill had been outstanding since 2008. She welcomed the attempts to reach rural communities and the Limpopo High Court. She noted that site visits had been satisfactory. She was pleased to see the unqualified audit report but noted that there were still some minor issues to be attended to. She wanted more information on adherence and application of legislation and wanted clarity on the One-Stop courts in Lepalale and Upington. She noted the filling of posts in Thohoyandou.

Mr W Horn (DA) first congratulated the Department on its  clean audit report. However he too noted a couple of problematic points. He noted the comment by the Auditor-General (AG) on irregular expenditure on a contract. He questioned the amount of R182 million that was set to remain for the following years. He was concerned that overcrowding in the correctional centres had increased from 29% to 34% and no extra beds had been provided. He wanted to know how the judiciary was coping with the increased inflow of information. He was also concerned about judges not being brought to face pending disciplinary actions for more than five years and thought that this warranted amendment of the legislation.

He noted and acknowledged that figures for house breaking had fallen and there was also a decrease in other crimes.

Mr Horn noted the 15% vacancy rate and the fact that the posts demanded experienced people but budget cuts meant that they would not be filled. He wondered if the Minister had pleaded with National Treasury not to impose budget cuts in order to mitigate the shortage of personnel.

He noted that the National Prosecuting Authority had announced that the Minister of Finance was to face an investigation into alleged fraud. The Hawks have issued a letter detailing the reasons for the NPA to lay those charges. He asked if the Minister had had any interaction with the Hawks, NPA or Department on that issue.

Mr S Swart (ACDP) asked about the request for court engagement in improving audits, and whether there was any relationship between the Department of Correctional Services, Department of Public Works and the position of the National Prosecuting Authority. This was an issue raised previously but there had been no effective resolution on the point.

Mr Swart referred to student protests and asked what steps the JCPS Cluster was taking, given the deterioration in the situation.

Mr S Matiase (EFF) welcomed the report by the Minister. He believed that the Traditional Courts Bill could be a good effort if the Bill was to be included under main services, but consideration must be given to the fact that the apartheid legislation that empowered traditional leaders had helped them to abuse their subjects. The Roman Dutch Law needs to be tempered.. Secondly he suggested that the Land Restitution Act needed attention, especially if forced removals, hate speech and racism continued with the effect that people were continuing to live under the same conditions as their forefathers were exposed to. The Constitutional Court dismissed all the cases brought to it so there was an important role for the Land Claims Commission. He believed that the Department was effectively failing to uphold the law, because of the poor quality of funding, poor supply chain and human resources management. He feared that the Department would suffer reputational damage. He wanted to know what measures were in place to assist in preventing that.

Mr B Bongo (ANC) was pleased to see the Minister attending so many meetings. He wanted to congratulate the Department on its improved outcomes. He wanted to know what was happening with the Mpumalanga High Court. He was pleased to see the improvements in the Third Party funds, but more information was needed on the Presidential Fund. The cyber-crimes legislation had to be passed as fast as possible. He too wanted to hear more on judges and discipline. Parliament exercised oversight over departments but who monitored the judiciary, and the media. He wanted to know if there were any programmes being offered on the roles and functions of the Chapter 9 institutions. He noted that many lawyers, having qualified, would not remain in legal services but tended to lave after a couple of years practice and he asked how they could be motivated and what retention strategies were in place.

Mr M Maila (ANC) noted that Mr Madonsela had stepped into a moving vehicle and urged that he should continue to drive it forward. The Traditional Courts Bill was welcomed, but it must be remembered that in some communities there were no traditional leaders. He also welcomed the improvements in the audit results but urged that this improvement must be sustained. The Committee is responsible for corruption-watch and oversight and all Members were passionate about getting rid of corruption. The Insurance industry has its own Ombudsman, who, not by chance, can even put the shareholders and employers in the spotlight and report on any corruption taking place. The public sector has to be scrutinised. Moral degeneration is an ill, and the media plays a role in promoting moral decay.

Ms C Pilane-Majeke (ANC) urged Mr Madonsela to keep up the good work, and hoped the Minister acknowledged the good work produced by the Department. This Committee would like to see sterner sentencing for those found guilty of violation or abuse of women, and an improvement in the conviction rates of crimes against women, and the Committee and society could not tolerate stoning and torching of property. She urged that the vacancy rate must be reduced. She said that she would also like to see improvements in reducing the numbers of defaulters on child maintenance and solution of crimes against women. Public awareness in important and it is not only this Committee who should address human rights; people themselves must be vigilant and informed. She noted that the Committee would wait for the Traditional Courts Bill. Hate speech is a new form of oppression and must be addressed.

The Chairperson noted that the Minister should not feel obliged to answer now, or answer all questions at once, and written responses would be accepted. However, one pressing issue was the possible setting up of Special Courts to deal with students in protest, and the stoning and torching of buildings. He was most concerned, in the correctional facilities about the number of young people not rehabilitated. He thought it very important that courts should be conducted in indigenous languages, and particularly why the proceedings of the court should be conducted in English in rural areas where the majority spoke indigenous languages and the judge and prosecutor were most likely to be black. He commented that demographics in the Land Claims Court are not considered, and justice is not being done on land dispossession. Justice must be done and seen to be done to create a non-racial society. He indicated that there was no legal aid funding for land claims and people setting the agenda were not acting to address the issue of paralegals. In the following year, the Committee would want to see the Programme of Action before the Minister responded to questions and comments.

Department of Correctional Services (DCS) Annual Report 2015/16 briefing
Mr Zach Modise, National Commissioner of Correctional Services, noted that the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) had undertaken a turnaround strategy and was focusing on governance as a key priority. For the Department to succeed, it needs to be effective and efficient, especially in internal controls and financial management and reporting systems. It will need to be working with the Auditor General South Africa (AGSA) to ensure that the concerns raised were addressed and its advice taken and implemented. He paid tribute to management and the officials of Correctional Services who had tirelessly put their shoulders together to ensure that the Department improves. He also stressed that in the last year there had been significant work done, and that the Department was addressing the contingency aspects that had led to a qualification in the previous year. It was important that those in management fully understand the situation and ensure that public funding was spent properly and in accordance with the law.

He fully conceded that running an effective correctional service in South Africa would be difficult. The situation, the budget allocated and the significant infrastructure challenges and overcrowding meant that the Department was loolking for some guidance from the Committee as to the best approach to alleviate the concerns and ensure that its work was given the necessary attention. Overcrowding remained at around 34% in the centres. DCS was able to accommodate 120 000 but currently housed 159 000 offenders, and the overcrowding figure had thus escalated. There were other challenges of vacancies in critical positions. It was possible that unwittingly the DCS itself may have created the overcrowding by using a bunks system. Some offenders were having to sleep on mattresses on the floor. This was worst in the urban facilities such as Pollsmoor Correctional Centre, which was seriously overcrowded, as were Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban Westville, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein. The system was exacerbated by the fact that DCS had not increased its staff so that the existing staff were under considerable stress. He thought it important to lay this on the line for the Committee prior to any site visits.

He added that two weeks ago, a complete unit at Pollsmoor was unable to be used because water was pouring through the facility when it rained, which showed that the facilities themselves were under strain. Some time ago the DCS was intending to construct a public-private partnership facility but when this became unfeasible the DCS had to look for other funding and was not able to proceed

Mr Modise stressed that the staff working with him daily were all doing their best to ensure that the DCS could perform in line with state objectives. In the last financial year, the DCS achieved 32% of targets. However, where the other targets were not achieved, this did not mean that zero achievement was seen; however, the way that goals were assessed meant that even if a department had succeed with 80% of the work, it was still regarded as non-achievement. He wanted to assure the Committee that the DCS was doing its very best to strengthen the areas mentioned by AGSA, with whom it had already held some good and productive sessions. The Auditor-General would make the DCS aware of where it was falling short, and the DCS for its part was committed to improve. The DCS was aiming to achieve another unqualified audit but it recognised that it still had a lot to do on governance, ensuring compliance with the internal controls of the Department, and enforcing consequence management throughout DCS, which had never happened before.

Mr Joseph Katenga, Chief Deputy Commissioner, DCS, tabled slides on performance.  Slide 4 indicated that there were 41 performance indicators, with 47 targets. DCS achieved 29 of the targets and 18 were not achieved, which was an overall performance level of 62% achievement.

Slide 3 noted that the AGSA had performance-audited three of the performance areas: Programme 2: Incarceration, Programme 3: Rehabilitation and Programme 4: Care. There were material findings that arose from the audit process. In respect of Programme 2 the AGSA gave a disclaimer on the usefulness of the performance information, and an adverse opinion on reliability. The root cause identified by the AGSA was that there was insufficient evidence of validity of reported performance information against source documentation. The root cause of the reliability finding was inconsistent implementation of the technical indicator descriptions during performance information reporting.

For Programme 3: Rehabilitation, the AGSA qualified the report on usefulness, again saying that there was insufficient evidence of validity of reported performance information against source documentation. There was also an adverse opinion on reliability. Similar findings were made in respect of Programme 4. There were variances between planned targets and actual achievement and the reasons were not deemed reliable. There had been incorrect and inconsistent implementation of the operating procedures, technical indicator descriptions and documented system descriptions for the accurate recording of actual achievements, as well as an inadequate review on the validity and completeness of reported achievements against source documentation.

Mr Katenga then noted additional matters raised by the AGSA. There had been material misstatements identified in the reported performance information of Programmes 2, 3 and 4.

Acknowledging those material mistakes, the DCS had made some corrections. Another key issue was that the Department's systems were inadequate and there were insufficient information and performance management systems.

He drew attention to slide 9, on the automated performance information system. The DCS believed that with the introduction of the automated inmate management system and the roll-out of the enterprise architecture, the DC would be able to improve the information. In this year it would automate five performance indicators around escapes, injuries and natural deaths, and the budgeting process. 

Mr Katenga added that the AGSA also suggested administrative measures which will help the Department to manage the current manual environment in which much of the work was done. These were set out on slide 28. With the introduction of inmate automated systems, and the rollout of the enterprise architecture, the DCS was now in the process of automating the information that underlines the performance indicators more comprehensively. Up to now, information had been handled in an ad hoc way. Now, however, the DCS had nominated specific individuals to handle performance information systems on an ongoing basis, so that dedicated officials were working on that consistently.
A key performance objective had been added into the performance agreements of all senior managers. This spoke specifically to the management of performance information. It was recognised that DCS needed fully-aligned operational plans throughout the system and all regions of the country, with no change to the targets, once set.  The Department had historically had challenges, with changes of performance management on an ongoing basis. In future, any changes could only be made after representations made to the National Commissioner, with full justification.

Another introduction into the Department recently had been consistent time lines, with reporting to be done against those from central to regional levels, and then up to Head Office. Consequence management applied here too, with people being required to sign off when submitting the information, to state that they had verified it, and that the submission was a thorough and accurate reflection of activities that had taken place. Any differences would be directly attributable to specific individuals who had been tasked with managing that system.

The Action Plan had been drawn in consultation between the strategic management team, the internal audit and the internal control unit that will be monitored on an ongoing basis during the financial year. The idea was to reduce all of the audit findings from the current 2015/16 financial year.

Discussion
Mr Horn commented on the issue of performance targets and the opinion of AGSA relating to the usefulness, validity and reliability of the information presented for audit. The Committee had earlier been told that the root cause of the problems in DCS was the collation of data. AGSA had referred to “ the differing interpretation at different centers and at regional level on what must be reported on guidelines. Last year the Committee had suggested that officials should be dealing with this problem on a continuous basis. AGSA was apparently of the opinion that the only solution to this problem is a computer based system to eliminate the human factor in interpretation of information. He strongly believed that, based on what AGSA and the Department had said, the Committee would again sit with the same problem in the following year. He suggested that the DCS might benefit from the DCS becoming fully automated, with the human factor removed entirely. Members were concerned that this vacancy rate had also risen.
Ms Pilane-Majeke asked the Department to indicate exactly what needed to be done in order to improve the situation. She noted that the DCS received money and it was its responsibility to ensure that the money was effectively used, including benefitting and up-skilling those who were the target audience. She asked whether the DCS was complying with the Employment Equity Act. She asked for confirmation that internal and external audit action plans were in place.

A Member asked whether the bunking system described complied with international standards, though it was not confined only to South Africa. She asked how the Secrecy legislation impacted on the Department. She asked what exactly was happening in the most over-crowded correctional centres.

Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) referred to page 7 of the presentation and said he had been hoping to hear some explanations on performance issues; the Commissioner merely seemed to have read out what the document said and did not put it into context or explain. He questioned what was happening in Mtatha and said that he had been complaining of the overcrowding for some time and noted that there was no proper balance in the system, with an excess of inmates when compared to those attending to dangerous inmates, and he asked for numbers.  The staff were further demoralised. 

Mr Modise agreed that the manual systems was causing a lot of problems for the Department. The system to be put in place will allow officials in all centres across the country to know what is happening in another centre. The system should be able to be used throughout, including by the Officer of the Commissioner, and the Head of Department, which would enable officials to hone in on how many were at the head office, for instance. The Integrated Inmate Management System was an IGS project intended to bring DCS into line with other IGS partners. This would allow all information, from police, through to courts to correctional services to be shared.

The Commissioner went on to explain that an Enterprise Structure had been created. This would, for instance, enable the AGSA, if it paid a visit, to see which inmates were getting medical services. It was important that all information should be consistent all the way through – from arrest to correctional services, and that it also be correctly and consistently available to all the regions as well as the national office. Another challenge was that of record-keeping in the facilities. Currently there were no proper systems so that information given was not always able to be substantiated with further records, which was why reliability was named as a challenge.

He again admitted that the facilities were overcrowded and that DCS was unable to get itself out of that situation at the moment. There have been problematic contracts. DCS which is why it had approached the DPW. Now a project manager had been appointed for each region and they would update the Department on the milestones of the projects.  Presently, there was construction ongoing at Pretoria Maximum Prison, the project at Brandvlei was completed, although now staff were needed to work in the greater accommodation facilities. This had been identified as a key area to try to appoint. The decision on the PPP was a combined decision between the Executive, DCS and also the Portfolio Committee. The current PPP was operating at High Courts, and apart from providing the buildings, the company was also operating on behalf of the state and DCS. DCS was looking for a hybrid model to put up facilities for the departments that would reduce the running costs. The Commissioner, with Mr Madonsela and Mr Dlabantu,would come to the Committee and explain the intention. It would like to make the Committee aware of the challenges, and asked for assistance from the Committee in raising them to appropriate levels.

The Commissioner also conceded that there was a serious backlog on  accommodation, and 30 000 bed facilities were urgently needed. DCS would draw a maintenance programme and provide this to the Minister. Small facilities existed at the moment, housing less than 100 inmates. There were several in the Eastern Cape, Free State and Western Cape. The DCS intended to increase them, over time, to at least a minimum of 500 offenders. He admitted that it is not economical to have a facility with 68 offenders and 48 officials. He noted that the Minister had proposed that offenders be put to work, as had happened in the past. This would be finalised at a state level and DPW will provide an oversight role so as to ensure that whatever is put in place is done in accordance to the standards of building.

He explained that the staff : inmate ratio was calculated by National Treasury. This body looked at he entire DCS staff, and at whether they were working only in an office, or in a facility expressly designed for such work. The purely administrative staff were working in line with the Public Service Act. Facility officials were hired in terms of the Correctional Services Act. The more non-centre officials there were, the more this took staff away from the centre-based work at the Centres. The Department was not ensuring smooth handover, and there were too few staff over weekends, especially if coupled with absenteeism and sick leave. Sometimes the number of offenders was three times the number of officials and that was happening in all facilities and was a major problem.

He noted that the Committee's input into this would be most welcome. DCS wanted a final organisational structure of 62 000 personnel, but that would have to be endorsed by Minister Masutha before being brought to the Committee. He was not happy with some of the processes, and felt that the current structure had not been informed by any particular strategy. Another factor was that inasmuch as the plans could be made, budgetary constraints were real and the DCS may well have to trim its plans back to baseline levels. However, the new strategy would have to proceed, even if done incrementally. Not one cent of additional funding had been made available by National Treasury.
 

The Commissioner also noted that there was not enough money in the DCS because some of those retiring and terminating their services had wanted their money out and allocated elsewhere.

The Commissioner acknowledged that the vacancy level had gone up as a result of service terminations prior to the expected retirement age. This was a problem across many departments. This was prompted by rumours that government did not have enough money and in order to implement its programmes and services, it was taking from the tax payers who were currently employed, people do not want to lose their monies to the state. This is more prevalent in levels;6, 7 and 8. This meant that significant skills were lost to the DCS. The DCS was working on a policy that would allow this department to employ retired people who would generally not demand all manner of additional benefits and would have experience. This will be coupled with the intake of learners in learnership programmes.

Mr Katenga answered some of the HR questions. The DCS had conducted training on performance indicators, since what must be done int terms of calculating and reporting was ongoing. The first   session was conducted in April and the next two weeks or so, the Department will embark on regional training. The Head of the Centres would be responsible for the  performance information, but it must be signed off by Head: Correctional Services. That provision of information was linked to the performance agreements and consequences would follow for failure to comply.

The Acting Chairperson asked if the DCS had tools to assist.

Mr Katenga responded that there are no electronic tools of performance management so far, but the integrated management system will address that concern over time.

Mr Katenga answered the question of budget cuts but saying that the DCS had already now reached a point when certain projects had to be stopped. It would have to carefully consider what it could do, particularly on skills development and rehabilitation of offenders. There would be a negative impact arising from the budget cuts. The Committee would need clarity on the exact impact and constraints because it would have to be kept apprised of which projects the Department will have to stop and which ones could be implemented. Already, there had been cuts on a number of programmes, including skills development and employee health, because of the budget cuts.

The three main priorities of the DCS were to provide food for offenders, to provide medical services for offenders and to pay salaries of staff. It would be untenable if inmates were to start a riot for services that they did not receive, particularly food and medication which were constitutional imperatives.

Mr Katenga added that the Department will provide the status report and the Departmental equity plan to the Committee. The Department has taken a decision that it would specifically, in advertisements, encourage those with disabilities to apply for posts. Notwithstanding this, the Department is struggling to meet the target that has been set by the Department of Public Service. It was looking critically at all its facilities in the meantime to ensure that it would be accessible to those with disabilities. This would be started at national level and gradually moved out.

The DCS had developed an audit plan to address the AGSA issues.  The Department has also developed an internal audit plan and a services evaluation plan. Both aim to ensure that the work of the Department is up to a standard of quality, and this would be inculcated in all, so that people will know that DCS will not accept anything unless thoroughly tested for reliability, correctness and would pose a healthy challenge when asked to look at work. This should then make the work of the AGSA easier at audit time since all work would have been subjected to a “pre-audit” to verify it. Additionally, DCS was trying to ensure that at regional level, there is an internal auditor who will be charged with ensuring internal quality controls.

Mr Katenga finally stated that once the systems were in place, he hoped that the Department would appreciate that within the next year or two, the hospital structures would take good care of the patients and be able to get a clean audit.

Dr M Motshekga had returned to the meeting by this point and wondered if the Committee should be involved in the setting of priorities. If the purpose of the correctional centres was not only to feed, shelter and keep its inmates healthy, but also to rehabilitate them (particularly since many were very young) then they could be brought back to their communities as  useful and productive citizens. He thought more was needed than providing the three necessities. The public perception in communities was that those inside the correctional centres were seen as enjoying luxury surroundings, while their victims in the communities were particularly traumatised. Many youths preferred to be inside than out. The budget cuts should not be purely arbitrary, but must take into account the various points.

Financial Officer's report
Mr Nic Ligege, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Correctional Services, said that what he would present today was consistent with what had been presented on 27 August, but would be summarised. The DCS had originally been promised a budget of R20.6 billion but there had been a cut of R20 million in respect of compensation, during the adjustment budget in October because of the vacancy rate. However, the DCS had actually been funding some matters out of that compensation budget because some of the work it was doing was not funded elsewhere.  There continued to be an inflationary pressure on the Departmental finances. Fleet services were too high and difficult for the Department to manage; here the fixed costs related to the main drivers of transportation of inmates and personnel. The second area where inflation was seen was food, where the costs were much higher than National Treasury had allowed. The third source of pressure was water and electricity charges. The DCS had been allocated R860 million but sometimes the needs of the DCS meant it was spending closer to R3 billion.

Mr Ligege explained that over the past years, money had been moved out of the compensation budget to fund the three main areas of food, fleet and services. However, it was now catching up with the DCS because as a result of the arbitrary cuts this year it found itself in the red as a result of a R281 million coupled with inability to find this money anywhere else.

He tabled slide 92 and said that he needed to explain the context. There was, in the last financial year, unauthorised expenditure of R121 000 which cannot be found anywhere else, and the Department is in the red. He stated that, in relation to slide 92, he needed to give the context so that the committee would understand the position. At the end of the financial year the Department had to hold back two invoices for Municipal Services for February and March, in an amount of nearly R200 000 because the Department could not pay.  This was the kind of pressure  endured by the Department of Correctional Services, which had spilt through to the 2016 financial year.

Expenditure relating to 2015 was deferred and was paid during the 2016 financial year. Mr Ligege stated that this is an unfortunate situation when it comes to water and electricity, but the Department does not have any choice as to whether it wanted these services, as they are basic needs of the facility.

Mr Ligege went on to slide 94,and explained the classifications.  There was a cut of R30 000 000, during the adjustment budget, as there was also a resolution taken at the PSBC regarding medical aid contributions at the expenditure of over R2000 000. He then summarised slides 94 and 95. There was an overspend on compensation of employees (100.3%) because of an adjustment of the housing allowance. The figures for salary levels, medical aid and resolutions were summarised.

Persal reported a funded permanent establishment of 42 006 ,of which 38 226 are funded filled posts, and 3 780 are vacant posts (9%). There was overspending in goods and services because of an increase in municipal service costs. Spending on rates was R6.04 billion, again due to continuous increases in rates.

In the areas of interest and rent on land, there was spending of R2 million although nothing specific was allocated in advance, as a result of the implementation of arbitration and court orders for personnel based in Head Office, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape regions.

Transfers and subsidies saw an 89.9% spending with the underspending due to lower-than-anticipated payments for leave gratuities on termination of service, as well as delays in the payment of the Skills Development Levy.

Mr Ligege assured the Committee that this was a true reflection of its finances and  terminations as well as delayed payment of skills development levy. DCS was holding discussions with the Department of Labour to try to address facilities and space challenges.

Discussion
Mr Horn said that he was pleased to hear of some of the improved spending patterns. He noted that deferred payment of R200 million with some approval.

He asked if the Department had engagements with the Treasury. He wondered also if the Department was actively pursuing or had an action plan to resolve the issues of water and power cuts and availability. He suggested that the Department might, for instance, look to alternative sources such as solar power, boreholes and so forth as he could not foresee the problems getting any less.

Ms Pilane- Majeke noted the large amounts on water and electricity and agreed that there was a need to investigate delivery in a sustainable manner. There must be areas where cuts were possible but those must be carefully selected. She thought that pre-paid meters for electricity and water should go some way to monitor what the use was over a period of time. She asked how the Department was managing fleet costs, tracking and fuel. She asked whether DCS owned or rented buildings. She asked the National Commissioner to describe what strategy it was using to employ via the Public Service Act and the Correctional Services Act, and how the work was compared when employing officials and administrators.

Mr Modise agreed that the DCS was already looking into better and more efficient spending. There had been several challenges. For instance, municipalities had been charging estimated fees to the DSC, and it wanted to ask for actual billing so that the Department could pay “officially”. Previously, there had been payments made without questioning the authenticity of the amounts claimed. It was trying to locate some machinery itself and to identify where this could be located to source water (which was seen as a priority since offenders used a lot of water for personal hygiene), coupled with problems of leaking pipes. The DPW was equally prioritising this issue.

He confirmed that the Committee could be provided with the costs of the fleet.

The DCS had taken a decision to have only correctional centres of 500 and more inmates, and that its staff would get training. Management would be expected to see proactively to rehabilitation and gainful employment of inmates. Standerton in Mpumalanga was a pilot; originally this was a 100-person facility, but it was moving towards a new centre with 1 000 inmates. The DCS would obviously have to look into staffing to best use all the officials. He explained that the DCS was still employing some people in terms of the old Public Service Act, but others under the Correctional Services Act.

Mr Modise responded to Mr Horn by noting that the DCS was already campaigning with National Treasury to identify new sources of energy which include renewable energy, and a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Energy had been signed and a pilot project was about to start. The concern of  the Department related to the financials. The DCS needed the money immediately to survive although some of the projects were medium to long term.

Dr Motshekga resumed the Chair at this stage.

Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS) Annual Report briefing
Dr Tykobony stated that the report was prepared prior to his joining the entity. He noted that the JICS intended to work more with the media. This office had been frustrated in the past by the fact that it had to wait a long time for investigation reports to be released. Two events were planned for the end of the year – to launch a new logo and to adopt a new corporate identity. Further public education was necessary not only to sensitise the public to the fate of inmates but also to the entity and its role. Overcrowding and torture would also be topics to be discussed.

Mr Michael Masondo, Acting Chief Financial Officer, JICS, said that the presentation that had been made on 26 September had covered a great deal and he would not present the slides that repeated that information. He tabled slide 2 and said that he would speak to performance. He read the presentation verbatim (see attached document for all details)l

Briefly, the report covered the human and financial resources and the overall impression on the state of correctional centres. He would not present the mandatory reporting. He spoke to stakeholder engagement and strategic objectives and the mandate of the JICS. Performance information was then set out.

The total allocation to the JICS was R47 016 000. A breakdown of the spending was that compensation of employees took up R39.46 million, goods and services accounted for R7.29 million and capital expenditure was R1.62 million.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked about assaults in correctional centres. No mention had been made whether officials were subject to assaults by inmates as the only matter reported was assaults by officials on inmates.

The Chairperson asked about mental illnesses and whether traditional healers were ever called in to treat those suffering from possession by the spirits, and whether their input was understood.

Mr Masondo said that the JICS did not turn a blind eye to officials assaulted by inmates, but the Legal Services division was dealing with that aspect. He agreed that the JICS recognised and would invite sangomas and traditional healers to give input in relation to mentally unstable inmates and officials. He confirmed that, the only method being used currently, however, was the Western methodology of treating psychiatric or mental conditions.

The Chairperson asked if the JICS, when detecting the possibility of mental illness, would make use of those at the DCS  to treat and diagnose inmates.

Mr Masondo said that the Department or JCIS was not currently using a wide range of practitioners but this meeting was perhaps useful in pointing out to it that it should use the opportunity to consider whether the net needed to be broadened.

Dr Tykobony wanted to clarify that it was not up to the JICS to diagnose anyone, and nobody in the JICS would have a specific understanding of how diagnoses would thereafter be carried out. The JICS, when visiting the correctional centre concerned, would be given a list of people suffering from mental illness so that the inspectors would get a list of what had already been diagnosed. Most inmates with mental illnesses were diagnosed as suffering from depression. This of course created the circuitous argument that the depression would be worsened by the fact of being held in custody especially if in solitary confinement. He cited the Kokstad Maximum Security Prison where inmates were housed in single cells, and virtually every inmate was prescribed anti-depressants. The JICS would look further into the issues.

Dr Tykobony added to the remarks on assault. The JICS had recently paid a visit to Helderstroom where there was a reported assault case. It was then discovered that the assault had started as an inmate on official assault, and there the inmates had put padlocks into socks, or attached them to the ends of belts and then swung the weapon as the officers were opening or locking cells. Serious injuries to officials had resulted. The worst scenario would then be one where officials would exact their revenge, so that injuries had included broken legs, arms, jaws and ribs. Often, when JICS asked to see inmates the officials would be reluctant to allow this, saying that the inmates were dangerous and that JICS officials were likely to be assaulted. Sometimes they had seen the inmate in a very bad way. Officials tended then to claim that this was the result of a gang-related fight. This was a problem that was likely to be ongoing. It must, however, be made quite clear that no official may assault an inmate, no matter how serious the behaviour that meant that the inmate could not function in society. Revenge assaults simply perpetuated themselves. The JICS was trying to get to the bottom of issues but this was a difficult task and provocation and self-defence both clouded the issues.

The Chairperson asked how to deal with the issue when an official claimed self-defence as justification for an assault on an inmate.

Mr Masondo said that the DCS officials were permitted under the law to use “necessary force” if attacked by inmates in order to defend themselves. In most of the reports and matters coming to the JICS, it would be seen that one inmate was fighting another. Often it was not a case of self-defence – he repeated that at Brandvlei the inmates had used the so-called isijumbane , attaching a hard object to a piece of clothing with a specific intention of assaulting an official. Injuries inflicted in this way often then resulted in the inmate being punished. That took the matter outside a self-defence issue.

Mr Horn said that the largest proportion of inmates were found in Eastern Cape, Gauteng , Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and the Free State. Use of Force cases rose sharply from 191 to 619 cases over the last two years. Most of the cases were in Free State. He asked if JICS had specifically investigated this and come up with any findings or reports.

Mr Horn also said the core functions of the of JICS were of concern. He saw an increase in the numbers of unnatural deaths, from 46-62, but the quarterly report figures did not match these and suggested that there had been 6 deaths where no report was made by the JICS. How would JICS deal with matters if it found out that they had not been reported. The spread of the figures also suggested that the reports may not in fact have been compiled quarterly. 

Mr Horn questioned the R8.7 million underspending by the JICS, and why, given this underspend, it was now requesting an additional R3 million. 

The Chairperson asked that the JICS delegates should respond in writing if they could not cover all the issues now.

Mr Masondo asked that another delegate should respond on the questions around use of force, reporting and dysfunctionality of the electronic reporting systems. (These answers were not recorded by PMG).

Mr Bongo felt that the presentation had not covered all the issues. Nothing had been said about KwaZulu Natal and it seemed that the briefing was not so much on performance but the problems being experienced.

Mr Maila wanted to know whether the problems had been resolved. He noted that on a previous occasion there had been issues raised about independence and a search for a suitable model. He wanted to know if those particular issues had been resolved, or whether they persisted. If they had been resolved the Committee needed to know how this had been done. He asked also about the relationship with the DCS. He asked how many cases had been investigated. He asked if there were challenges around the staff complement.

The Chairperson thought that the vision may have been expanded by the inspecting judge. Some of the questions raised by Members were quite fair

Ms Pilane-Majeke (ANC) asked why the position of the CFO is not apparently a permanent position. She noted the total complaints figure of 75 619, but wanted a breakdown, indicating how many related to transfers, assaults, appeals, and questioned why the numbers later in the presentation did not tally with those quoted here.

She wondered how many inmates were illegal migrants. She had visited one correctional centre and found that around 1 000 out of the total of 8 000 were illegally in the country which meant that the State was spending vast amounts where it did not have to. This would have to be looked into and reported on as soon as possible. She questioned whether the figures around mental illness were really correct, pointing out that they seemed to suggest that in one facility over 85% of inmates were suffering from a mental illness.

PMG was unable to cover anything further in this meeting.

 

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