Committee Report on Department of Justice, Correctional Services & Office of Chief Justice Budgets

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Justice and Correctional Services

16 May 2017
Chairperson: Dr M Motshekga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered the draft reports on the budgets for the Department of Justice, the Department of Correctional Services and the Office of the Chief Justice.

The Chairperson headed a page by page analysis of the three documents. In many of the documents, minor changes were required, either to grammar or the choice of words. The main discussion was focused on the first report, in which the DA Members called for consistency, especially in regard to the estimated figures presented..

All three reports were adopted, with majority voting for their adoption after the inclusion of the required minor changes. The DA reserved their vote on all the reports.

Meeting report

Committee Report on Budget Vote 18: Correctional Services

Some minor technical amendments were made to the report.

Adv G Breytenbach (DA) identified several grammatical changes to be made to section 2 of the report on page 2.

Mr J Selfe (DA) called for changes on point 2.9 of the report to the acronym APP, as it should read “Annual Performance Plan”

He said a change should be made on page 3 to point 4.1, which should read: “The DCS will receive R22.814 billion or 5.72 per cent higher than 2016/2017”.

Adv Breytenbach called for some grammatical corrections on page 7 in point 5.3.1.

Mr Selfe also highlighted some changes to the amount stated in article 5.4.2. The figure of “R1 161.2 billion” should be changed to “R1.161 billion” instead. All Members agreed to this correction.

Mr Selfe drew attention to the key targets for the upcoming years presented on page 9. The proposed targets for the next period of 2017/2018 should be roughly similar to those of 2015/2016. He highlighted that on page 29 of the previously discussed APP report, the key targets in the preceding years had been maintained, so the same should also be reflected in the data in this report.

Mr B Bongo (ANC) supported the decision to review the key target figures.

Mr Selfe referred to page 10, and suggested that the report should not refer to the previous financial year (2015/2016). This was because it did not appear in the report which had been tabled. For purposes of consistency, the table should discuss only the figures for the 2017/2018 period.

Mr Vhonani Ramaano, Committee Secretary, pointed out that the inclusion of “2015/2016” on page 10 was an error, as it should read 20172018 instead.

Adv Breytenbach highlighted a change required for point 6.2 on page 11 to read: “The Committee is led to believe…”

On page 13, point 6.9, Mr Selfe suggested the use of the word “may” in the last sentence to avoid being falsely quoted in court papers.

Mr Selfe said that the language under “recommendations” in points 7.1, 7.7 and 7.12, required some changes because as it currently stood, it was placing an obligation on the Department at large to act directly, based on the recommendations of this Committee. Mr Selfe argues that this language did not reflect a respect for the separation of powers. Instead, the points should ideally be changed to state that the Committee called on the Head of Department to appeal to the Department to take on the Committee’s recommendations. The changes were necessary, owing to the issues that had been raised in this regard with the secretariat in previous years.

Mr W Horn (DA) disagreed, stating that a call to the Head of the Department was similar to a call to the Department directly.

Ms M Pilane-Majake (ANC), commenting on the point raised by Mr Selfe, said she believed the changes suggested were minor, considering members from the Department who were present, were sitting on behalf of the Minister.

The Chairperson also suggested that the changes proposed by Mr Selfe were minor and unnecessary. He called for other views on the matter from the Committee.

Ms Pilane-Majake suggested that this issue should be discarded and that the Committee should proceed to the next points.

The Chairperson said that further discussion might be necessary to gauge the opinion of the rest of the Committee, taking into consideration the issue raised by Mr Selfe that this lack of recognition for the separation of powers had previously raised issues in the courts.

Mr Selfe reiterated that calling on the Department to do something, and requiring it to do something, were two different things, as the latter showed a disregard for the fact that Parliament had no legal jurisdiction over what government departments did. Ordering the Department to do something within a set time period could reflect intentions to usurp the Department’s authority.

The Chairperson suggested a follow up on this matter to ensure that the Committee learnt from past mistakes.

Ms Pilane-Majake called attention to point 7.6 on page 16 with regard to the wording: “We recommend that a suitably qualified Chief Executive Officer of JICS (Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services) be appointed immediately in order improve its strategic management and capacity.” She proposed that this be changed, as it communicated a suggested incompetency of the current acting CEO.

The Chairperson disagreed with this proposal.

Ms M Mothapo (ANC) agreed with Ms Pilane-Majake that the wording suggested the incompetency of the incumbent. She advocated a change that mentioned the recommendation of filling the vacant position.

The Chairperson agreed on the change and called on the Committee to also contribute their suggestions.

Mr Bongo argued that the statement was not prejudicial and was an objective statement that should be changed.

The Chairperson reiterated his view that changes in the formulation of this suggestion must be made so as to not deem the incumbent unqualified for filling the position of CEO.

The conclusion was that the drafters should re-evaluate the language and still communicate the need for the vacancy to be filled.

Mr N Matiase (EFF) questioned whether the amounts allocated in point 7.10 on page 17 would strictly be for the feasibility study only, or if they were inclusive of the need to build new facilities.

The Chairperson called on the drafters of the report to answer this query.

Mr Ramaano said that more details on the feasibility study were still to be added.

The Chairperson urged the use of actual amounts, because if the Committee presented this report as it was to Parliament and changes had to be made later, the Committee would have misled Parliament.

Mr Selfe suggested that a change be made to the days in which the Committee expected the Department to start implementing changes -- from 30 days to 60 days -- which was a more realistic time frame.

Calls were made to remove points 8.1 and 8.2 of the report on the basis that it was unnecessary to be expressing thanks to the Deputy Minister and the Commissioner, considering they were performing their required departmental duties.

Mr Horn notified the Chairperson of the DA’s choice to abstain from voting on this draft report.

The Chairperson made a call for those in favour of the adoption of draft report of the proposed changes. Eight Members of the Committee voted in favour: Ms Pilane-Majake, Mr M Maila (ANC), Mr Bango, Mr L Mpumlwane (ANC), Ms M Mothapo (ANC), Mr Matiase, Mr F Shivambu (EFF) and Mr S Mncwabe (NFP).

The Chairperson concluded by noting that the majority were in favor of the adoption of the report with the request amendments.

Committee Report on Budget Vote 22: Office of the Chief Justice and Judicial Administration

Some minor changes were suggested to the figures on page 2. Changes had also been made to the tables under point 2.

Some information on pages 4 and 5 were to be omitted. No corrections were necessary for the rest of the document.

The Chairperson called for a motion for the adoption of the report.

Mr Selfe requested a minor change on page 18.

Adv Breytenbach said that the DA would also be reserving their vote on this draft report.

Once again, eight Members of the Committee voted in favour of the adoption of the report.

The Chairperson concluded that the report would be duly adopted.

Committee Report on Budget Vote 21: Justice and Constitutional Development

The Chairperson asked for clarification in respect of a previous meeting, where a discussion had been held in regard to state funds and Legal Aid SA. The section dealing with this matter had been placed in point 11.7 of the draft document. He questioned if there was a need to clarify the mandate, especially in regard to Legal Aid SA and land claims.

Only a few points of clarification were raised, however, and no major changes were made at this point to the draft report.

Mr Bongo raised a question in regard to making an amendment on page 32 in point 9.5. That point should read: “Reaching people working with the traditional leaders and councils”. This would reflect more of a collaborative effort with the Committee and the traditional leaders’ structures.

A call was made by the Chairperson to remove point 17 from the document.

The Chairperson proposed a motion to adopt the proposed draft report. 

There was opposition from Mr Matiase, as he argued that the Department would first have to deal with its legitimacy deficits.

Seven Members voted in favour of approving the report.

The DA continued to reserve their position.

The Chairperson declared the report duly adopted.

Committee matters

The Chairperson informed the Committee about other administrative issues.

The Chairperson had recommended to the Foundation for Human Rights that it should host a dialogue on land claims. There had been no feedback on this request and in the meantime, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), the Centre for Human Rights and the Centre for Community Law had organised a symposium on land, heritage and human rights to which the Committee had been invited. Unfortunately the invitation had not been processed in time, so Committee Members had been unable to attend. However, the University of Limpopo would host a follow-up on 19 and 20 June. This was timely, considering the Land Act had been adopted on 19 June in the year 1913. The Chairperson urged the commitment of Committee Members to this, as the land question was a matter of national interest, not just party interest. There would never be justice if the land question was not resolved. The invitation had been extended to other departments.

The meeting was adjourned.

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