The Deputy Minister responsible for Correctional Services led the delegation that presented the Annual Performance Plan and Budget for Correctional Services. He introduced the newly appointed National Commissioner, Mr Arthur Fraser, who was with the Department that day, although he would only be reporting for duty the following day. The Deputy Minister pointed to the difficulties experienced by those departments that had had their baseline budget cut and asked that the Committee take the budgetary constraints into account. He also pointed out that the new obligations in respect of remand detention had not been funded and so the required changes had not been made.
The Committee needed to be aware that the population of citizens in conflict with the law had increased by almost 3% per annum over the past three years and there were currently 157 000 offenders in correctional facilities, although the precise figure changed on a daily basis. The infrastructure under the Department’s control had not grown in a desirable way and the new bed spaces had not unfolded in the way that the Department had expected. The problem of overcrowding was becoming acute. Alternative sentencing was one way of minimising those who went into incarceration, but the number of offenders who were given alternate sentencing was very modest and did not really bring down overcrowding. There was also a question about the usage of technology. The multi-pronged strategy had previously included electronic tagging, which could have helped to reduce overcrowding, but that programme had been stopped.
The Chairperson placed on record that the Committee was greatly concerned about the escape of 16 remand detainees from the Johannesburg Correctional Centre because the safety of the public was paramount. The Minister had explained that there had been a human element involved in the escape. He was grateful to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for arresting the escapees.
The Department of Correctional Services stated that overcrowding had been influenced by higher levels of crime in the country. The 37% overcrowding in facilities impacted on all aspects of the budget and planning. Insufficient posts, as a result of the ceiling imposed on personnel costs, meant that personnel had been reduced to 39 101 staff members and additional budgetary cuts meant that there would have to be further cuts. 866 posts had been abolished to accommodate the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services and the case management study.
Reintegration of offenders was improving with an increase in victims and communities participating in reintegration and parole processes. Additional auxiliary social workers were to be appointed to deal with victims of offending. Despite the challenges, the percentage of parolees without violations had improved. Unfortunately, incidents where officials were attacked with knives and other instruments, including boiling water, continued. Out of the offender population of 162 799, 61 200 offenders were serving life imprisonment and long-term imprisonment. That increase in the number of long-term prisoners would impact on correctional services for years to come. In addition to the incarcerated offenders, the Department was responsible for more than 70 000 additional offenders, either sentenced or unsentenced. 53 000 of those people were on parole and 16 311 were under probation. A further 1 300 persons were awaiting trial under the community corrections system, which was an alternative to being behind bars
The Department indicated that the final budgetary allocation for Correctional Services for 2018/19 was R23 849 billion, a 2.47% cut in the budget. No performance bonuses would be paid to SMS members although performance bonuses would be paid, at a reduced rate, to deserving officials. Correctional Services allocated a percentage of the Administration Programme budget to the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services. As the Administration Programme budget had been cut, that meant that the budget for the Judicial Inspectorate had also been cut. It was important to note what the budget did not fund and that included funds for the Judicial Inspectorate to travel to correctional centres for inspections. The real impact of budget cuts over three years was evident in low staff morale as a result of the compensation of employee cuts and could exacerbate the high rate of staff turn-over.
A Member noted that there had previously been a question about the independence of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services. What was the Department’s take on that? Was the target of 18 000 bed spaces in ten years attainable, considering the current rate of adding bed spaces? Another Member was concerned about how the Department was going to reduce the number of unnatural deaths as 52 people dying unnaturally might be a small percentage, but it was a high number of people? How far was the Department of Correctional Services in introducing alternative sentencing methods that would reduce overcrowding?
One Member noted that the Department was considering working with line departments responsible for specific activities, such as health, education and social services, and asked whether engagements with those departments had begun. He was concerned about the independence of the Judicial Inspectorate as he who paid the piper called the tune. Could the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services not be more independent of the Department of Correctional Services so that it could really play its oversight role? How had the Department overspent on municipal costs? Had the predicted cost of municipal services been incorrect or had the municipalities overcharged the Department?
One Member wanted what the Department or the Minister was going to do about companies that went belly-up. Two contractors in Tzaneen had gone belly-up and so he asked how much the Department had spent on building projects in relation to what it had got for the money spent. Was the Department working in a prudent manner with finances? What had happened about the legal action regarding the IT tender that Treasury had advised the Minister against, at the time of signing the contract?
Another Member noted that there was no target for filling vacancies in the 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan and asked why that was so. The Member asked about the specific procedure for filling vacancies in the Department, and specifically at SMS level. She asked about procedures to fill Deputy Chief Commissioner posts as well as the National Commissioner post. What were the procedures for filling senior management posts? Had the position of National Commissioner been advertised, and, if so, when and where? Had there been a short-listing procedure and were interviews held and, if so, when and where? Had Mr Fraser applied for the post and had he been interviewed for the post? If so, when and where had that occurred?
A Member observed that South Africa was the only country in the world where people who had fought for liberation were kept in prison by those who had been liberated by them. Why were political prisoners kept in Correctional Centres? What had they done?
The Chairperson indicated that the Committee would develop a programme of action based on the answers to their questions within two weeks. He also noted that the late Councillor Nonhlanhla Mthembu, who had created a model for participatory administration of a halfway house, would be having a halfway house renamed in her honour. Finally, he suggested that the Department of Correctional Services meet with the Southern African Inter-Faith Council which could help the Department determine which religious people were genuine people of faith and could, therefore, be allowed access to correctional facilities.
The Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister responsible for Correctional Services and Mr Arthur Fraser who would start his duties the following day as the National Commissioner of Correctional Services.
Remarks by the Deputy Minister for Correctional Services
Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla thanked the Committee for allowing the Department to present its plans. The previous day, the Minister had provided the Committee with an overview, but the ministry was huge and, although the Minister’s comments the previous day were wide-ranging, he wanted to highlight one or two additional points. The newly appointed National Commissioner, Mr Arthur Fraser, was with the Department that day, although he would only be reporting for duty the following day. He would not be presenting the Annual Performance Plan and the Budget, but he had felt that it was important to be there for the presentation to the Portfolio Committee. The Acting National Commissioner would lead the presentation.
As far as Correctional Services was concerned, the Department had procured a Rolls Royce version of a strategic plan. The Rolls Royce was, however, being driven on a very poor road, full of potholes. He was trying to draw the Committee’s attention to the fact that from 2005 when the Department had drafted its White Paper, there had not been a commensurate increase in resources. In 2014, a new White Paper was adopted on Remand Detention but the new obligations in respect of remand detention were not funded and so the way that the Department was going about remand detention looked nothing like the White Paper because of the resource constraints. The Committee also needed to be aware that the population of citizens in conflict with the law had dropped drastically a few years earlier. However, there were currently 157,000 offenders in correctional services and the population had slowly increased by almost 3% per annum over the past three years. That increase was steadily growing. The third point to be highlighted was that despite the steady increase in population, the infrastructure under the Department’s control had not grown in a desirable way. The new bed spaces had not unfolded in the way that the Department had expected.
The facilities had been built a while back and were designed as prisons and not as correctional centres. By that he meant that if universities were identified by the lecture rooms and lecturers walking about, correctional services did not seem like a correctional centre because one would not find workshops and teachers in the correctional centres. The infrastructure did not lend itself to the mission of realising rehabilitation and the correction of offenders. The Department, in agreement with National Treasury, had sought to bring about new centres with Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Three correctional centres had been built and they were State of the Art in respect of the facilities, but the PPP model had been discontinued and no new infrastructure had been built in the past couple of years, apart from the augmentation of prisons. The challenge associated with the delivery of infrastructure had not served the Department well. The Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) partnership had not been without its challenges.
The problem of overcrowding was becoming acute. Overcrowding was against every practice of correctional services. The plans would indicate what the Department had intended to do but could not because overcrowding was a problem. The Department had previously presented a multi-pronged strategy, but it had not been able to roll it out. For example, alternative sentencing was one way of minimising those who went into incarceration, but the number of offenders who were given alternate sentencing was very modest. It did not really bring down overcrowding. There was also a question about the usage of technology. The multi-pronged strategy had included electronic tagging, which could have helped to reduce overcrowding, but that programme had been stopped as the Members would be aware. Electronic tagging would not show in the plans to be presented to the Committee as a result of the disputes around the supply chain.
The Department needed to look to improve the model of delivery. The Department needed to find a targeted way to focus on its core business and leave peripheral functions to other providers. Correctional Services dealt with a range of issues that were dealt with by specific government line departments, such as education, health and social services. Correctional Services needed to review the delivery model of those functions so that it could perform its core functions under the serious budgetary constraints. In the plans, the Committee would see that the Department was making courageous efforts to meet the targets of previous years.
The Deputy Minister explained that he was raising the challenges to make the Committee aware of the issues at the Department and so that everyone had a common understanding of issues at a high level. He invited the Acting National Commission to lead the presentation.
The Chairperson placed on record that the Committee was greatly concerned about the escapes from the Johannesburg Correctional Centre because the safety of the public was paramount. The Minister had explained that there had been a human element involved in the escape. He expressed gratitude to the South African Police Service (SAPS) that those people had been arrested.
He thanked the Deputy Minister for taking the recommendations made by the Committee seriously. The Committee would not go into a political discussion as that had taken place the previous day and the Department was requested to focus on business and the APP. South Africans wanted to know about the plans of the Department and how the Department was going to deal with the corrupt elements such as those who had assisted in the escape. The previous day the Committee had engaged in discussions. The current meeting had to be business-like and deal with the plans of the Department, so he would ask the Acting National Commissioner to go straight into the presentation.
Presentation of the Annual Performance Plan and Budget 2018/19 by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS)
Mr Mandla Mkabela, Acting National Commissioner, DCS, responded to the Chairperson’s concerns. The Department ensured that remand detainees were kept under secure and humane conditions, ready for the court processes, and society was protected from incarcerated offenders. The Department was working on the rehabilitation of offenders.
The escape of 16 remand detainees from the Johannesburg Correctional Centre during the early hours of 9 April 2018 was unacceptable. The Department had already taken steps to improve security, including a high-level investigation into the serious security breach. In collaboration with SAPS and other security agencies, the Department was working around the clock to ensure the speedy arrest of the remaining ten escapees. That followed the death of two escapees during a fatal shoot-out in KwaZulu-Natal on 10 April 2018. Four other escapees had been re-arrested. During his visit to the Johannesburg Correctional Centre on 13 April 2018, the Deputy Minister had been given a briefing. As instructed by the Minister, the Department would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the culprits, be they officials, inmates or any other persons, were brought to book. The safety of people living in South Africa could not be jeopardised.
The escape from the Johannesburg Correctional Centre followed closely on an escape from Pollsmoor Medium B where six offenders had escaped but were re-arrested within 36 hours. In January, there had been four escapes from Mdantsane Correctional Centre. While there were those escapes, the Committee was requested to note that numerous attempted escapes had been stopped. 80 incidents had been foiled in the past year. Escapes from correctional facilities had been reduced, but one escape was one too many. The majority of escapees had been re-arrested, and the personnel had to be commended, but there were a few officials who had sacrificed their duty and honour to their greed. In 2015/16, 34 correctional officials had been charged with assisting escapees.
Despite the challenges, the percentage of parolees without violations had improved. Unfortunately, incidents where officials were attacked with knives and other instruments, including boiling water, continued. Overcrowding had been influenced by higher levels of crime in the country. The Department had met with the new Head of Crime Intelligence to discuss crime levels. Regular searches were being conducted in all facilities but low levels of staffing hindered the process. Insufficient posts as a result of the ceiling imposed on personnel costs, meant that personnel had been reduced to 39 101 staff members. Additional budgetary cuts would result in further staffing cuts to ensure that personnel costs did not exceed the ceiling. 866 posts had been abolished to accommodate the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) and the case management study. The revised salary structure, which recognised experience, had led to further personnel cuts as a result of the increase in salaries. Assaults and escapes were difficult to manage with the reduction in staff but management would continue to promote the need for further resources.
The percentage of parolees without violation had improved. Out of a population of 162 799, 61 200 offenders were serving life imprisonment and long-term imprisonment. That increase would impact on correctional services for years to come. Five out of the six Correctional Services regions were experiencing an increase in offender population. Only in the Free State and Northern Cape were the numbers manageable. DCS required additional funds to increase bed space throughout the country by 18 000 in order to deal with the immediate challenges.
The reduction of posts meant that the Department was focusing on working towards improving efficiency, but the limited resources were posing serious challenges. Despite those challenges, DCS promised to speed up the transformation of correctional facilities.
Annual Performance Plan and Budget
Mr Joseph Katenga, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Strategic Management, DCS, presented the indicators and targets for the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework. He presented a situational analysis. The focus of DCS was on rehabilitation through education programmes, spiritual care and additional work opportunities for offenders through the own-resources facilities maintenance. The 37% overcrowding in facilities impacted on all aspects of planning. Overcrowding was also the main contributor to issues of assault and escapes. The
reintegration of offenders was improving with an increase in victims and communities participating in reintegration and parole processes. There was, similarly, an increase in victim offender dialogues and mediation which had led to a need to appoint additional auxiliary social workers. The modernisation of DCS Information Technology to replace legacy systems with an Integrated Inmate Management System (IIMS) was essential to provide a single view of inmate and offender information based on biometric identification.
Budgetary constraints had led to cost reduction programmes, improving the efficiency of production and agricultural workshops, and the enhancement of procurement practices and logistical processes. Unsuitable infrastructure had to be phased out. Additional auxiliary social workers were to be appointed to deal with victims of offending. The budgetary constraints had led to a number of targets being reduced, but DCS was putting measures in place to ensure that the reality of limited resources impacted as minimally as possible on its mandate and programmes.
DCS was reviewing the organisational structure to ensure alignment of strategic priorities with core competencies.
Mr Nick Ligege, CFO, DCS, indicated that funds were being channelled towards rehabilitation. He indicated what the budget provided for, but also what it did not provide for following the budget baseline cuts to address the R40 billion gap identified to provide for free higher education.
The final budgetary allocation for DCS for 2018/19 was R23 849 billion, a 2.47% cut in the budget. In 2019/20, the Department would receive R25 488 billion, which reflected a 2.55% cut, and a 2.54% budget cut in 2020/21, would leave the Department with a budget of R 27 251 billion.
Cuts had been made in accommodation charges paid to DPW, the JICS baseline, compensation of employees and the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA) baseline payment. The cuts to the accommodation charges would have an impact on the planned maintenance of facilities by DPW. The JICS baseline was a percentage of the Administration budget and had, therefore, also been decreased while the SETA fee was a percentage of the Department’s budget and was, therefore, also reduced. No performance bonuses would be paid to SMS members and other performance bonuses would be paid at a reduced rate to deserving officials. The real impact of budget cuts over three years was evident in low staff morale as a result of the compensation of employee cuts and could exacerbate the high rate of staff turn-over.
It was important to note what the budget did not fund and that included funds for JICS to travel to correctional centres for inspections, non-compliance with the Skills Development Act in respect of the transfer of 1% of budget to SASSETA, refurbishment and replacement of existing state-owned buildings.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister for the political leadership and the vision that he had provided to the Department. The Committee had thought that DCS was ready for the ICU (intensive care unit) but the Deputy Minister had steered the Department well. The Committee Members would do the business of politicking in their own time, as he was appealing to them to constructively deal with the report so that they could inspire people about the safety and security of DCS. The Committee wanted the people to live in safety and security. It was an important report and the Department had to be empowered. He asked Members not to begin with preambles but to ask their questions directly.
Ms M Mothapo (ANC) thanked the Department for the presentation. She had a few comments and a few concerns. Her concern was that the organogram showed that most women at senior management level were in acting positions, such as the Acting Regional Commissioner and Acting Deputy Commissioners. The Department had to address the issue of equity in the budget. There had previously been a question about the independence of JICS. What was the Department’s take on that?
The creation of 18 000 bed spaces in ten years at the current rate of only 904 spaces per year made her question the attainability of the target. The issue of overcrowding was not just the concern of DCS because crime was a societal problem, and everyone needed to participate in keeping communities safe. Overcrowding resulted in a lot of contentious issues such as the spread of contagious diseases, escape, etc. The Department was clearly attempting to comply with the Saldanha judgement in terms of recommendations around 150%. That was highly commendable.
Skills development for inmates was an issue and the Committee wanted to know what was being done. For the past few years, the Committee had been very vocal on the vacant posts, especially of rare skills. The presentation had made mention of psychologists. What was happening about filling the vacant posts for other rare skills, e.g. psychologists?
Mr G Skosana (ANC) greeted the Deputy Minister and the New Commissioner as well as the Acting Commissioner. He noted that the Department was doing very good work and the Committee was happy. In relation to the shortage of various professionals in the Department, he was pleased to hear about the appointment of auxiliary social workers. It had been an issue for a number of years, particularly in Barberton. He was glad that auxiliary social workers were being appointed, but what about psychologists?
He referred to Slide 17 which indicated the number of officials trained in line with the Workplace Skills Plan (WSP). The estimate of performance for 2017/18 was 21 000 while the target for 2018/19 was 22 050. But the presentation did not show the total number of staff eligible for the training. What percentage of the total staff had been trained and what percentage had been targeted for training? He referred to the percentage of unnatural deaths indicated on Slide 23. In 2017/18, the percentage of unnatural deaths was 0.032%, which was really a very small percentage but, actually, 52 people had died out of 32 0000. 52 people had died unnaturally and that was a big number. How was DCS going to reduce the number of unnatural deaths? Natural deaths were beyond one’s power, but the unnatural deaths concerned him.
Slide 25 presented the issue of overcrowding and indicated the percentages that the Minister and Deputy Minister had spoken about. The Deputy Minister had indicated that in the past three years there had been a consistent increase in the number of offenders which had created the overcrowding. However, the Deputy Minister had indicated that there were alternative sentencing methods. How far was DCS in introducing alternative sentencing methods that would reduce overcrowding? If something was not done, the Department would not be able to live within its budget. Slide 29 referred to offender development and the Matric results. He commended the DCS on giving offenders an opportunity to study but he was concerned that the pass rate had declined consistently over the past three years. The Department would have to work very hard to attain the 2018/19 target of a 70% pass rate. Was DCS introducing new methods or how would the targets be achieved?
Mr E Buthelezi (IFP) had a clarity seeking question. The Deputy Minister had mentioned that, in light of the budget constraints, the Department was looking at working with line departments that were responsible for specific activities, such as health, education and social services. Had engagements with those departments begun, and, if so, how far were they?
Mr M Maila (ANC) welcomed the new Commissioner. The issue of overcrowding was a burning issue. He noted that DCS bore the brunt of overcrowding, but the cause did not lie solely with DCS. Alternative sentencing could deal with the matter of overcrowding but issuing alternative sentencing methods was not the prerogative of DCS. The justice system had been integrated, but what were the other role players in the justice cluster doing to deal with the situation? Who was overseeing whether all stakeholders were doing what was supposed to be done. Listening to the presentation, it seemed like DCS was losing the battle of overcrowding. The presenters had spoken of increasing the bed space, and that might deal with overcrowding, but it was also increasing the population. In one sense it was a solution, but in another, it was not. The Deputy Minister had referred to the use of technology but that electronic tagging had been stopped because of supply chain issues. Did the analysis of the tagging system show the desired results? If it did, could they not speed up the system by resolving the supply chain issues?
The independence of JICS had been mentioned by Ms Mothapo and the CFO had indicated that the budget cuts would impact on travelling and subsistence of JICS. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Could JICS not be more independent of DCS so that it could really play its oversight role? How had DCS overspent on municipal costs? Why was there over-expenditure? Had the prediction of municipal service usage been incorrect or had the municipalities overcharged DCS? There was the issue of drop-out rates and how that reduced the number of offenders who participated in educational programmes. Had DCS assessed which courses the offenders might want to take? Had those learners been assessed in respect of their personal interests? Could they not have targets for the increased number of offenders participating rather than drop-out rates?
The Chairperson stated that it was good that DCS did not have officials who passed the buck. He congratulated Mr Maila on really interrogating the system. The overcrowding was a result of what was happening in other departments. The Committee had to address the problem with the Department of Justice because Justice led the integrated justice system. The Committee had to find out to what extent the other departments were letting DCS down. He noted the questions on the independence of JICS. DCS could not do anything about it. The Committee would have to determine whether or not to review the legislation.
Mr W Horn (DA) did not disagree with looking at the overcrowding from all angles, but what was important at that meeting was to focus on the way in which DCS could deal with it and down-manage it. His colleague had already raised the issue of the bed space targets. He disagreed that the Department was doing well in respect of the aspect of bed space. The Department had to convince Members that it was going to do things differently in order to create additional bed spaces. Three years ago, the APP had a target of 1081 bed spaces and that target was only going to be realised in the current financial year. The 2015/16 APP had a target of 6087 new bed space by 2019/20. Now Members were being asked to believe a target of 18 000 bed spaces being created over the next ten years. It was not realistic unless certain issues were addressed in a practical way. For example, the Tzaneen Correctional Facility was first announced in 2007. The Minister had said that he had visited the site and would address the problem of contractors going belly up as the second contractor in Tzaneen had also gone belly-up. The question was how to prevent a re-occurrence. The Department rightfully complained about lack of resources, but how much had been spent on building projects in relation to what DCS got for the money spent? Was the Department working in a prudent manner with finances?
There were other examples of wasted expenditure. The Department stated that it was still struggling with the Integrated Inmate Management System (IIMS). What had happened about the legal action regarding the IT tender that Treasury had advised the Minister against, at the time? The Minister had refused to cancel the contract and the matter had ended up in court. The amount was R378 million. For the Committee to approve future budgetary amounts, it was important for it to know what the status was of that litigation. Mr Maila had rightfully addressed the question of the electronic tags. The electronic tags had been hailed as the holy grail in 2014 in terms of not only down-managing the overcrowding, but also as an aid to social re-integration. The Committee had just been told that it had been stopped. It was unacceptable simply to say that it had been stopped. That contract was also in court. Why had the project been stopped? The principle remained the same. Had the project perhaps been a monumental flop? Previously, the Committee had been told that 20% of the tags had been damaged beyond repair and apparently the company that had supplied the tags had not included maintenance in the contract. It had also been a problem that Israelis had supplied the tags.
In respect of JICS, he noted that the Committee seemed to fluctuate between allowing JICS to be independent with its own budget with Treasury, and accepting that legislation determined that DCS was responsible for the budget for JICS and the situation could not be changed. The Chairperson had been quoted in the Sunday Times as saying that there was no problem with JICS but, in reality, JICS had frequently complained that it was at the mercy of the Department.
Mr Horn touched on the issue of remand detainees. There had been an increase of 2 800 remand detainees, giving a total of 46 000 remand detainees. While 90% did not qualify for bail, why was the 10% in correctional services at the cost of the public purse? Why were they not dealt with in terms of the relevant legislation to reduce the number of detainees?
The Chairperson said that Mr Horn had provided good motivation for his disagreement with the Chairperson, but he asked him not to be blasphemous with his reference to the holy grail.
Ms G Breytenbach (DA) noted that there was no target for filling vacancies in the 2018/19 APP. Why was that so? The Administration Programme consisted of eight sub-programmes. In terms of budget allocation, that was equal to 43% of the total of the Programme. She asked about the specific procedure for filling vacancies in the Department, and specifically at SMS level. She asked about procedures to fill Deputy Chief Commissioner posts as well as the National Commissioner post. What were the procedures for filling senior posts? Had the National Commissioner post been advertised, and, if so, when and where? Was there a short-listing procedure and were interviews held and, if so, when and where? Did Mr Fraser apply for the post and was he interviewed for the post? If so, when and where had that occurred?
Ms Breytenbach noted that the Budget allocated only 8% for rehabilitation. That was the second smallest programme and 79% of that budget went to compensation of employees. How could the programme be successfully implemented in line with the NDP? The Minister had, the previous day, briefly touched on the escape of inmates from Sun City and Pollsmoor. She asked the Deputy Minister for more detail as to how he was going to address that issue. Escapes remained an ongoing problem and most seemed to occur with inside assistance. How was it being addressed?
The Chairperson explained that the Minister had said that the President had consulted him on the appointment of the new National Commissioner. That question should have been put to the Minister the previous day and the Deputy Minister was not obliged to answer the question.
Ms Breytenbach interjected saying the Deputy Minister was responsible for Correctional Services and she asked that he answer her question. It was not for the Chairperson to tell him not to answer.
The Chairperson informed her that it was his right to give presenters the option not to respond and, also, he believed that that meeting was not the place to ask about cancelled contracts. The Committee should ask the Minister for the information in writing. He thanked Members for being short and sweet.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) had noted two main problems: lack of resources and overcrowding. DCS had raised the possibility that the departments responsible for education, health and social development would take responsibility for matters that were their line functions. Did the Department need the Committee’s help in that direction? Regarding resources, he reminded DCS that in the past inmates had to work and their produce was sold to the public to raise funds. The focus currently seemed to be on the inmates themselves. Instead of working, the inmates spent time watching TV and planning how to escape. Inmates were not being corrected by giving them work. They were being corrected by giving them a lot of privileges.
The Committee had asked about the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) but there had been no response then and he did not believe that he would get an answer that day. He was particularly concerned about those who had left the Department. The Committee had raised the question of shift patterns for the past couple of years. The explanation given was that they would be reviewed and then DCS would do something about the situation.
Mr Mpumlwana saw it as a problem when fewer officials were guarding dangerous offenders. It was not good for the safety of officials or even offenders. He addressed the problem of the shortage of staff. The lack of finance had caused the shortage. How come DCS could not create income using the manpower that it had?
Another matter that had been raised before was the issue of the Parole Board officials. Those officials had taken DCS to court and had written a letter that had raised a number of issues, including the advertisement for new members of the Parole Board. The current members had to leave but their problem had not been solved. The case was with the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council where something had been served against DCS. The country depended on the Parole Board members to reduce the population of prisoners as they had to make sure that prisoners went out when they were supposed to. But conditions were not conducive to them doing their jobs.
Lawyers were enriching themselves by looking at the mistakes of the Department, including those who had not been given parole when it was due to them. The Van Wyk case one of those cases where the offenders should have been incarcerated for 13 years, but they had been in a correctional facility for over 20 years. Lawyers were targeting DCS and making millions. He, therefore, did not think that it was the best time to cross swords with the Parole Board members. The system of parole was to have been reviewed in 2015, but now the Department was advertising for new members without changing the structure. DCS had said that it would bring the structure to the Committee but had not done so. It was a mistake and DCS should stop, put the new structure in place, and then start advertising.
DCS was in same Department as Justice, so why could the issue of alternative sentencing not be resolved, or should the Committee address the relevant legislation? The job of the Committee was to assist the Department. The matter of political prisoners had been raised the previous day. South Africa was the only country in the world where people who had fought for liberation were kept in prison by those who had been liberated by them. Why were they kept in Correctional Centres? What had they done? Everyone talked of overcrowding, but those people were still in correctional centres. He hoped to get some answers so that the Committee and the Department could work together.
The Chairperson noted that the Department and the Committee had to take collective responsibility for the situation of the political prisoners and the Parole Board. The Committee had to do its work and it would be on the Committee’s agenda going forward.
The Deputy Minister noted that the big delegation would play in the Department’s favour as he would invite officials to respond to those issues for which they were responsible. He would speak after officials had responded.
The Chairperson reminded the Department that information that could not be provided at the time could be submitted in writing. The Members preferred that to speculation by professional people.
Mr Katenga, addressed questions raised in respect of the Annual Performance Plans. The relevant professionals would respond to specific questions. With regards to the indicator on vacancies, because of the reduction of employees from 42 000 in 2017/18 to 39 000 in 2018/19, there was no vacancy rate. It was impossible to have a vacancy rate when the staff complement had to be reduced. When there was attrition, a decision would have to be made as whether the post would be filled or not.
Ms Linda Bond, Acting CDC: Human Resources, DCS, responded to the question about women in acting posts at SMS level. The equity target was 60 - 40 male - female at SMS level. At salary level 13, the ratio was 59% male and 41% female. At salary level 14, the ratio was 57%-43% and at salary level 15, the ratio was 70%-30%. That was where the challenge was. Many of those positions were not filled and the situation should therefore be corrected.
Looking at the vacancies for scarce and critical skills, especially psychologists, she pointed out that DCS participated in the community programme and planned to have 45 psychologists and 47 pharmacists in community service in 2018/19. DCS also provided bursaries for scarce and critical skills. DCS had discovered that the Department of Social Development had provided a number of bursaries for social workers but who were currently unemployed. The Department would negotiate with Social Development in respect of those social workers.
Regarding the total target for WSP, she pointed out that an organisation would never train 100% of its staff as that was not feasible. The current establishment was 39 621 so the figures given in respect of WSP training had to be read against that figure. The affordable staff establishment for the MTEF 2018/19 – 2020/21 was 39 621 for 2018/19; 39 895 for 2019/20; and 39 980 for 2020/21. Initially DCS had measured itself against the 10% Public Service vacancy rate but the vacancy rate in DCS was 0.8% which would not be worth measuring. Vacancies to be filled over the current financial year would be funded totally from natural attrition, including the scarce and critical skills. Certain categories of posts had been identified as critical for appointment and those posts included Heads of Correctional Centres, Heads of Community Corrections, Community Corrections positions, professional skills personnel and the absorption of those learners that were already in the system. Regions had been informed of posts they could fill and the funding level that they could not exceed. Between 2017/18 and 2018/19, there were only 324 posts that could be filled plus any created by natural attrition.
In respect of the CDC positions, she stated that interviews had been held for CDC: HR in April. The CDC Community Corrections and CDC Remand Detention positions were on hold. The Department had embarked on a transitional re-structuring at head office to align the structure to the budget programmes, so until the process had been finalised by the Department of Public Service South Africa (DPSA), DCS had felt that it would not be prudent to appoint people to positions that would be changed by 30 June 2018.
In respect of the OSD payment for terminated officials, DCS had decided that, in terms of the risk involved in paying incorrect amounts that could not be recovered, a full audit was necessary. An internal audit had been completed in February and officials who had left would receive payment by 31 July 2018. Details would be submitted to the Committee.
A proposal for shift patterns had been submitted to the Bargaining Chamber. The Department of Labour (DOL) had requested that DCS establish a joint task team with DOL to take the matter forward and to do the necessary analysis. There were challenges, but DCS was engaging DOL. Unfortunately, the shift pattern might not solve all problems. In order to implement the seven-day establishment, the Department would have to add 7 000 officials, which it could not do. The Union had not yet challenged DCS as it was aware of DCS’s problems in respect of staffing shortages. When the process had begun, DCS had required an additional 8 000 staff and that would have been a problem. Now it would be impossible to find additional staff and the Union could challenge DCS on that.
Mr James Smalberger, CDC: Incarcerations and Corrections, DCS, addressed the issue of overcrowding. There had been a steady increase in the number of offenders, as confirmed by the Deputy Minister. When offender numbers were provided, Members had to remember that the numbers fluctuated. The figure currently stood at 163 000 but the previous week, the number had stood at 164 000. Those were the numbers of people behind bars. More than 70 000 additional offenders, either sentenced or unsentenced were on the books of DCS. 53 000 of those people were on parole and 16 311 were under probation. A further 1 300 persons were awaiting trial under the community corrections system, which was an alternative to being behind bars. Overcrowding was not only a DCS matter but the Department was doing whatever it could within its power. When offenders were returned to court, DCS provided all the necessary information to allow the court to consider the alternative remand system. The DCS was keeping statistics regarding all those who went out on different systems.
As certain facilities were generally more crowded than others, 47 000 offenders had been transferred from one centre to another in 2017/18 to make sure that offenders were spread across all centres. That process had had huge financial implications. On remand detainees could not be moved, unless there was an exceptional circumstance. Concerning unnatural deaths, DCS agreed that one was one too many. All deaths in the facilities were analysed. There were teams to identify suicidal risk inmates as almost 40% of unnatural deaths occurred as a result of suicide. Other inmates died as a result assaults by other offenders and also by the involvement of staff, which had been reported. Unnatural deaths was a strategic indicator so that the Department was aware of the unnatural deaths. The Regional Commissioners in attendance at the meeting could indicate what was happening in practice to prevent unnatural deaths, should the Committee wish them to do so.
Mr Smalberger said that 26 community psychologists were assisting in the core branch, but they were constantly coming and going. The van Wyk judgement had been very complex and the explanation was very technical but, briefly, he could say that judgement had shortened a life sentence from 20 years to 13 years and included those whose death sentences had been commuted to life sentences. There had been 5 000 inmates in that category. That category was being monitored from head office. It was a standing agenda item at the meetings of Regional Commissioners. Of the original 5 000 inmates, 3 700 were still incarcerated, of which 2 500 inmates had been or were being considered. About 1000 inmates were still being considered. There were no van Wyk cases of people incarcerated for no reason.
Concerning the Parole Board, DCS had completed a review paper and draft legislation and had given it to the ministry. The Minister had requested the National Council to hold round table discussions, after which they would give feedback to the Minister and DCS would receive political direction on the way forward. The Minister had provided guidance regarding political prisoners.
The Chairperson told Mr Smalberger that he was addressing South Africa and if his response to the question on political prisoners was simply that the Minister had provided guidance, that was not helpful to the relatives of political prisoners in South Africa who needed direction. What were the directives?
Mr Smalberger explained that the Minister had responded the previous day but as he had not been at the meeting, he did not know what the Minister had said. He apologised for using the wrong words.
Mr Botha, Chief Director: Incarcerations, DCS, responded to the question of the additional bed spaces. The Department had adopted a multi-pronged strategy. As part of that strategy, the organisational blueprint for the Chief Directorate: Facilities had been redesigned. That had led to the appointment of 25 built environment professionals at national and regional levels. They were engineers, architects and quantity surveyors. Their appointment was intended to beef up inhouse capacity, to enhance the utilisation of internal resources and to assist the agents who implemented the projects, i.e. DPW and IDC. The built environment professionals would also scrutinise municipal accounts and already a couple of savings had been made. A couple of projects were underway – Tzaneen, C-Max, Escort and Standerton. There had been delays in previous years, but 1500 bed spaces would be delivered in the 2018/19 financial year, despite challenges with the contractor in Tzaneen, as the built environment professionals would assist in those projects. There was a focus on bed spaces and a couple of projects were already in pre-planning and planning stages. The Department was looking at upgrading dilapidated structures to provide additional bed spaces. DCS still had some structures consisting of zinc and asbestos and those had to be replaced. The Department would concentrate on its own resources to do maintenance.
Dr Minette Plaatjies, Deputy Commissioner: Personal Development, DCS, addressed questions on skills development, Grade 12 and the selling of products. Personal Development in DCS consisted of four directorates which dealt with formal education, skills development, sports, arts, culture and recreation of offenders, as well as production workshops and agriculture.
In terms of skills development, DCS wanted to increase the numbers but was hampered by a few things, one of which was the qualifications criteria for offenders to take part. Skills development courses included engineering, assistant chefs, hairdressing, clothing design, bricklaying etc. as well as national certificates. DCS worked with DHET which had specific criteria for offenders to meet, as did SETA. For an offender to get accreditation, an artisan had to be linked to that skills development course and there was a limitation on the number of qualified artisans within DCS to oversee the training and assessment.
DCS had 14 formal schools. In the presentation, DCS had indicated the projected pass rate of 67%. When the APP was printed, DCS was still awaiting final results. The actual achievement in 2017/18 was 76%, a pass rate that was higher than the national average. To facilitate working with other departments, DCS had memoranda of understanding with the Department Basic Education (DBE) and with the Department of Higher Education. The Departments assisted in formal schooling and skills development by involving DCS teachers in training and development opportunities. Those Departments played important roles in the achievement of DCS in schooling and skills development.
Dr Plaatjies explained that the drop-out rate referred to Adult Education and Training. There was a drop-out rate, but it was not the main issue. The target of just over 10 000 had been reduced by over 1 000 because the profile of the offender population was changing. The number of completely illiterate offenders was dropping because there was a large number of young offenders and their education level was somewhat higher. DCS put offenders in appropriate programmes and so generally, young people were encouraged to go into schooling or skills development. Also, the Kha Ri Gude Literacy Campaign had ended and that had had a negative impact on the Adult Education and Training centres.
Dr Plaatjies presented the Committee with a catalogue on Production Agriculture which showed how DCS was marketing and selling. A long-standing practice was for offenders to make school desks for DBE. The catalogue showed that offenders made the items together with skilled artisans in woodwork, textile and steel. DCS had eight facilities where offenders were taught those skills. Goods made in the workshops were sold to other government departments, but the goods were not cheap as DCS used good quality wood. Offenders also made beautiful braai stands at two of the facilities. DCS sold goods made by offenders but the money did not go back to DCS coffers. The CFO had mentioned that the Department had approached Treasury to get those funds back into the Department to enhance the programme. DCS really needed more artisans but, nevertheless, she invited Committee to have a look at what they were doing in the various facilities. Offender labour was also used on DCS farms for fruit, milk, meat and chicken. 1 500 offenders worked in production workshops and 3 000 in agriculture on a daily basis. In addition, there were other skills that offenders learnt. When those offenders went out on parole, they had a skill to make a living outside the correctional facility.
The DCS Director for Sports, Arts and Culture was working closely with the Department of Sports and the Department of Arts and Culture. Zonderwater Correctional Centre would be showcasing more than 3000 blankets crocheted by male offenders. When the 3000 blankets were put together, they would depict the face of former President Nelson Mandela.
The Chairperson was impressed by the work that Dr Plaatjies was doing but it was unfortunate that people did not know about it. He asked for a package on what Dr Plaatjies was doing. He informed her about the new literacy programme: Read to Lead. He pointed out that physical activity was not just about the physical body. Yoga developed the mind and the body. People were developing African yoga which would address the mental capacity of the offenders as well as the physical body and would help in cases of suicide risk. It was also necessary to determine whether there was a psychological reason for the suicide rate.
The CFO responded to Mr Maila’s question about municipal services and the cost of water and electricity utilised. He explained the DCS used water and electricity in its 243 facilities and there was also the agriculture component where livestock and crop farming used large amounts of water. Earmarked funds were determined by National Treasury, but costs had increased at a greater rate than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate. Water tariffs and electricity service costs had increased far above the CPI increase of 6.1%. The problem lied with the baseline used to determine costs. Ultimately, 5% of the DCS budget was allocated for municipal services but expenditure had been far higher than budgeted. That had impacted negatively on the capital projects budget and R163 million had been transferred to the municipal accounts. The plea of DCS was that National Treasury reinstate the practice of budgeting according to the actual cost of water and electricity. DCS was working on a memorandum of understanding with the South African National Energy Development Institute to undertake a feasibility study of renewable energy for boilers and geysers, which would save a large amount of electricity. The Department could cut down on coal and also use solar instead of electric geysers, but the benefits would only be felt in the medium term. Other energy savings were also being piloted.
The Chairperson spoke about the personal development programme. On an oversight visit, the Members had seen children incarcerated with their mothers, but they had no contact with men and they ran away from men. What damage was being done to those girl children? Should the children be incarcerated? Should there not be a facility outside for the children? Nelson Mandela and Mama Sisulu had worked with UNICEF on the rights of children and they would be horrified that children were incarcerated in South Africa. The Committee would put DCS in touch with UNICEF, DBE and the HRSC which was working on a programme.
The Chairperson had a letter written to the Acting Head of Department by the Vice-Chairpersons of the Parole Board who were opposed to the advertisements. The Vice-Chairpersons stated in the letter that they had not completed all their work, but the Chairperson suspected that they just wanted to keep their jobs. He asked the Deputy Minister to address the matter. There was also the question of the cost of finishing the three facilities. Were there resources to finish them and, if not, what were they doing to finish them? B-BBEE did not mean that black people had to be millionaires at the expense of the people. If people did not know how to do the work, they had to go back and learn. The priority was people and safety, not the colour of people. Why was the PPP stopped? The Committee owed a response to people.
The Committee had to consider the independence of JICS. The integrated criminal justice system was a failure of Committee as Justice was meant to lead the integration. Why were people who had been fined R200 put into correctional services if they did not have the R200 to pay the fine? Alternative sentencing was very important as people were unemployed and could not pay R200. Overcrowding was increasing because it was not deal with. The incarceration of political prisoners was an issue for Committee.
Demoralisation was deepening despite funds being put into morale regeneration. He was not a heathen but a believer. Nevertheless, he thought that too many religious organisations had access to correctional centres. Those people prayed for a better life in heaven, not here on earth, but no one had verified that it was nice in heaven. The Department needed to organise a workshop for the leadership of religious organisations and see what the religious organisations were telling the offenders.
Mr Mpumlwana added that the problem was that the Department came to the sessions but the Committee always got the same answer. The answers were excuses, not a plan. Lawyers were targeting the DCS and the Department would be paying out money instead of utilising the money productively. He asked the Deputy Minister to address the issues and to get answers.
The Chairperson said that he should take the blame because the Committee Researchers should capture the responses of the Department and then follow up with the Deputy Minister. The researchers had to provide him with a report on the key things that had to be followed up. Then there would be no blaming. It had been a very good meeting and he thanked the Department.
Concluding remarks by the Deputy Minister
The Deputy Minister acknowledged that the time for the meeting was almost over, but he had noted a few questions that not been responded to. He had taken copious notes. The Department would make an undertaking to forward responses to the Committee. Members could also put questions to the Department in writing.
JICS had been delegated to the Deputy Minister for supervision. The fact that there was uncertainty as to the degree of independence that JICS ought to enjoy was partly responsible for the uncertainty around JICS. There were other similar offices, such as the Military Ombud and the Inspecting Judge of Security, and JICS should be compared to those. The report by JICS comprised only one page in the APP. The ministry was concerned about the way in which JICS accounted to Parliament. The baseline budget of JICS had been reduced by 2.4%, and when one looked at the plans and the strategic indicators, there was clearly a problem. The ministry had believed that all 243 centres could be visited by JICS but only a third had been inspected. The plan had been to double the visits in 2019/20, but there was no possibility of doubling the visits with the new budget, and yet, in 2020/2021 100% of the facilities should be visited.
Questions had been raised around IIMS and electronic monitoring. The two programmes were before the courts. The Committee should agree that DCS would provide written reports on the two programmes, within the limits of the legal constraints regarding the communication of information around the two areas.
There had been a misunderstanding by Mr Horn. He was not satisfied with the rate of work in rolling out new infrastructure. He actually agreed with Mr Horn. Part of the problem was the Supply Chain Management, or lack thereof, in the Department. The Ministry also had reservations about the target of 18 000 bed spaces in the next ten years as projects in the pipeline did not suggest that it could be done. The Department had said that regions were still engaging in respect of getting bed spaces. The target for the current financial year was not in the plan but Tzaneen, Standerton, C-Max and Escort would yield just over 1000 beds. So, realistically, the Department could only increase bed space by 1008 in the current financial year.
The Deputy Minister addressed the point about discussions with other line function departments. The process had commenced mid-2017 but he did not know if the Department had taken the matter further. Resources were inadequate, so the Department had to find other ways of delivering. He would follow up and he was happy for the Committee to be engaged in the process by meeting with other Committees.
Regarding alternative sentencing, he explained that DCS could not share information regarding the challenges with alternative sentencing. Mr Mpumlwana had raised the issue of offender labour. His question had been addressed but he wanted to add that the management wanted offender labour to be involved with maintenance. However, the Department of Defence (DOD) had engaged with DPW to allow DoD to conduct its own maintenance and had experienced numerous difficulties. One of the problems was that the Government and Infrastructure Management Act gave DPW full responsibility for all infrastructure. A significant slice of departmental budgets had to be transferred to DPW which did not get its own budget for the work. As DCS used a lot of infrastructure, the amount transferred to DPW was high and yet the Department did not get value for money as some of that money was not used directly on DCS facilities. The funds were sent directly to DPW and so DCS would have to find additional funds if it wished to get offenders involved in infrastructure work.
In respect of Adv Breytenbach’s question, he stated that the position of Director-General, or National Commissioner, had been advertised in October 2017 but the ministry had asked for an extension to allow more candidates to come into the pool. There had been a meeting regarding the shortlisting a few weeks ago and, at that meeting, there had been a view that the Minister should propose to the Department of Public Services that DCS be granted permission to head hunt a candidate. All DGs were employed by the President and held contracts with DPSA. There were occasions when changes were made to the contracts, in terms of the department at which a DG was to be deployed. So, when the President proposed moving Mr Fraser, the Minister could not oppose that decision.
The Chairperson appreciated the answer to the question about the DG as it may have seemed that he had been trying to suppress a question. He was sure that the Deputy Minister had explained the situation to the satisfaction of all Members. He had asked for a programme of action, so he wanted the DCS to provide responses in writing to all unanswered questions within a week. The Committee Researchers would develop a programme of action based on the answers received and he wanted the completed plan of action within two weeks.
The Chairperson referred to the halfway houses. Sometimes people won tenders to run halfway houses but they did not know what they were doing. The late Councillor Nonhlanhla Mthembu had created a model for the participatory administration of a halfway house. The Committee was not only interested in the re-naming of a halfway house in her honour, but the Committee also wanted to see how the halfway house was run. It had to be run in a participatory manner.
The Deputy Minister had referred to the benchmarking that had to be done. Five Members of the Committee were also lawyers so they should start the process of benchmarking and produce a solution between the Committee and the Department. The question of sentencing was the responsibility of Justice and the Committee was responsible for Justice so the Committee would make sure that the Department of Justice came forward with a proposal to deal with the alternative sentencing. Members would tell the Department of Justice that if it did not present a proposal, the Committee would take the matter and deal with it. The Chairperson appreciated the promise of the reports on the IIMS IT system and electronic tags. He appreciated the information provided so that Committee understood what DCS were doing and how government worked.
Finally, he wanted to refer to the matter of the religious sector. The religious sector was organised. The Southern African Inter-Faith Council could help the Department determine who were genuine people of faith. The Department should work with the Southern African Inter-Faith Council so that the Department was not infiltrated by people who made one drink petrol or who had agendas other than the interest of the inmates. The moral regeneration movement should be supported by all the chaplains in government entities and they could say whether the moral regeneration programme was working and whether government should continue putting money in that programme. Together they could improve the programme.
The Chairperson informed the Deputy Minister that he was happy to tell people that security and safety was in the good hands of the Department and, while there was room for improvement, there was no neglect or incompetence.
The meeting was adjourned.
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