The Select Committee on Security and Justice met to engage with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS) on their annual performance plans (APPs) and budgets.
The Deputy Minister said the APPs were in line with the medium term strategic framework (MTSF) and the National Development Plan. He expressed concern about the impact of budget cuts on the work of the DCS, particularly given its expanded focus away from prisons and towards correctional services, including rehabilitation and reintegration. In addition to this, some of the Department’s data was not entirely reliable, which also caused problems.
The DCS outlined its plans for the current financial year as well as years ahead. Some of the plans and targets had been amended due to budget cuts. Overcrowding in correctional facilities was flagged as an issue which had a knock-on effect on other areas of the Department’s work. It gave details of how the cuts had affected the budget and how the Department had reprioritised. It had been unable to employ more officials, and old infrastructure and machinery could not be replaced. The cuts had also had an impact on some of the Department’s production facilities, where it produced items such as food for prisons and provided an opportunity for skills development among offenders.
The delegation from JICS elaborated on the impact of budget cuts on their ability to inspect correctional facilities. It praised its working relationship with the DCS, but expressed frustration at the poor state of facilities, noting the role which the Department of Public Works had in the maintenance and construction of the correctional facilities, as well as the offices of both JICS and DCS officials.
Members of the Committee focused on the impact of the budget cuts on purchasing equipment and filling vacancies. What was the Department’s plan should budget cuts persist? How would it impact the work of the Department, and staff morale? Was the Department having to go back to the drawing board to amend its plans in the wake of the budget cuts? How would the budget cuts affect the correctional facilities’ staff to offender ratios?
Other questions addressed the Department’s working relationship with the DPW, and how this could be improved. Could the Department take responsibility away from the DPW for its own facilities? Members asked for updates about the electronic tagging system and what the Department was doing to keep the price of purchased items down. They also wanted to know how corruption was being dealt with in the Department.
Department of Justice and Correctional Services: Annual Performance Plan and Budget
Mr Thabang Makwetla, Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, said was leading a delegation to take the Select Committee through the Department’s annual performance plan (APP), on the understanding that an earlier sitting would have covered a briefing by the Minister, when the plans of the two Departments were being introduced. The Minister would have shared his sentiments as to where the work of the Department was and what the priorities for the financial year were at that meeting.
Members of the delegation from the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) introduced themselves to the Committee.
The Chairperson said that he assumed DCS regional commissioners were similar to the provincial commissioners for the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Mr Makwetla said that in the Department’s plans there was an area of work which was a very important area, namely the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS). He introduced the inspecting judge of JICS, Prof Johann van der Westhuizen.
Prof Van der Westhuizen said that he was not sure whether he was a participant or an observer, and introduced Mr Leonard de Souza, Chief of Inspections, and Mr Vickash Misser, chief executive officer (CEO), from JICS who would answer questions later about the technical aspects of JICS.
Mr Makwetla said the Department was presenting plans for work that would be done in the last year of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) period of 2014-2018/19. He clarified that the Department was in the outer year of the MTSF period and that when looking at the APPs, the targets had been set by the Department itself, based on what the Department thought would be achievable in the period. The plans the Department were tabling were aligned as closely as possible to the National Development Plan (NDP) objectives and goals. Some areas of the plans did not have visible alignment with the NDP, but this alignment was assumed, as in the ‘zero year’ of 2030 there would be two MTSF periods which would be planned for. If all the envisioned end goals in government were realised by 2030, it would mean that these plans were part of the work done to establish targets, moving backwards within the remaining MTSF periods.
The Ministry was happy that in tabling the plans, there was an indication of the hard work that the Department was doing. However, as much as there were very inspiring achievements, there were challenges that it was grappling with. In order to succeed, it was expected that its rehabilitation work through correctional programmes would be in line with best practices. In that respect, there were programmes for offenders covering education, spiritual care, skills acquisition and the utilisation of their skilled labour for maintaining the Department’s facilities.
Mr Makwetla outlined the main challenges to ensuring the safe custody and rehabilitation of offenders under conditions where human rights were observed. He felt that the question around the levels of overcrowding in correctional facilities was very important, as it influenced everything else. The extent to which the Department had succeeded in adhering to its constitutional obligations in terms of conditions in which inmates were kept, rehabilitating them and reintegrating them into communities, was all a function of the size of the prison population and the human and other resources the Department had at its disposal.
The Department needed to keep the communities where those in conflict with the law came from in mind when looking at its plans for rehabilitation and reintegration. If offenders came from communities with a culture of observing the law, it made the work of the DCS less difficult. If the levels of conduct within communities were such that people were more inclined to break the law, the work of the Department and its success became more difficult. He expressed concern that at that time, almost daily, there were mass activities of citizens who were transgressing the law. Law enforcement agencies were expected to execute their responsibility when this happened. It was expected that the criminal justice system should not have resources utilised by law enforcement agencies without justice being done. As a result, those at the bottom of the value chain ended up in a position where they were not in control, and the Department had to deal with an exponential increase in the numbers of people it was expected to deal with. The number of South Africans detained and arrested would negatively impact on the work of Correctional Services. He highlighted that the DCS, especially in that financial year, was executing its plans with reduced resources and a budget of around R23 billion, representing a cut of just over R600 million. This was a cut which all other Departments had been asked to effect, to make up for the shortfall in the overall budget of government.
Mr Makwetla said that the Committee may pick up weaknesses in some areas of the DCS’s plans because the data the Department relied on was not as accurate as had been hoped. Where there were shortcomings in its data, the Department had indicated that it was possible that there may be changes in those areas as it executed the implementation of its plans. He gave an example of the rate at which new infrastructure would be developed, arising out of that the number of bed spaces the Department would acquire, stating that the data was not as accurate as the Department would have wanted.
The Department had gradually been moving away from its original mission, which was to ensure the safe incarceration of those in South Africa’s prisons, towards being a Department of Correctional Services. This perspective was contained in the Department’s White Paper of 2005. While it had been moving away from the way it was doing business before towards prioritising rehabilitation, the business architecture had not been realised to achieve this goal. The Department was working hard at developing a new organogram and organisational structure to realise rehabilitation as its new mission. There was a need to develop appropriate business architecture and organisational structure which would be aligned with the strategic priorities of the Department.
Mr Makwetla concluded by stating that the gist of the discussion would be better served by going into details of the plan and interrogating it.
Mr Joseph Katenga, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Strategic Management said that he would begin by focusing on the DCS implementation of NDP Vision 2030 and the MTSF Outcome Three priorities. In delivering on the mandate of the DCS while in the current MTSF, the Department was directly identified under Outcome Three which was South Africans being and feeling safe. In delivering on its rehabilitation and reintegration mandate, the Department was also contributing indirectly to other areas such as education, health, social cohesion, employment and skills development. This contribution would become more apparent in the outer years of the MTSF. Referring to the current MTSF, he highlighted three performance indicators associated with the DCS, which focused on reducing repeat offending. The first indicator was the percentage of offenders subjected to correctional programmes, the other two referred to parolees and probationers who were not in violation of their conditions.
Mr Katenga elaborated on how the Department set its targets over the five-year period, noting that it was adhering to the performance levels it had set and that it was on target to achieve those targets over the five-year period. He mentioned the contexts within which the Department came up with performance indicators and targets for the year, saying that many of the areas had been touched on at a higher level. Referring to the operational environment, the Department looked at priority areas. It focused on performance indicators that spoke to the rehabilitation and care of offenders, increasing its efforts and targets in those areas. There would be a greater emphasis on involving youth offenders in formal education programmes, as well as a greater effort in spiritual, social work and psychological services for offenders. The Department would be looking at providing more work in its facilities maintenance programme for offenders.
He expressed concern about overcrowding, noting a roll-on impact on the number of assaults, escapes and unnatural deaths in facilities. He attributed the growth in the prison population to the overall population growth of around five percent over the last five years. The prison population had grown from 152 000 to 160 000 over the five-year period from 2012, yet facilities could host only 119 000. There was a plan in place to refurbish old facilities which were not fit for purpose and to add new bed spaces in existing facilities. The Department aimed to add 18 000 new bed spaces over the next ten years.
Regarding reintegration into the communities, there were efforts at reinforcing restorative justice processes which would feed into parole processes. However, additional resources would be needed to ensure targets were met.
Mr Katenga emphasised the budgetary constraints which were a problem for all performance indicators, resulting in reducing baselines over the medium term. The Department had implemented measures to reduce costs and manage expenses. It needed to become more creative to cover more ground with the limited resources at its disposal. In terms of human resources, it was looking at realigning its structure to properly drive its strategy. It was reviewing the service delivery approach of the DCS. A key constraint was budget cuts, which would restrict the number of positions it would be able to fill, and the Department would need to reprioritise how it approached this.
Mr Katenga moved on to an analysis of the performance Indicators from 2017-18 to 2018-19. Based on actual performance in 2017-18, the Department realised that it needed to become more realistic, so it had amended some of its targets. The target for the number of offenders who participated in educational programmes, particularly adult education, had been reduced due to the discontinuation of some formal programmes. The percentage of inmates on anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy had been marginally reduced, from 99 to 98 percent, based on an analysis of past performance. Under nutritional services, the percentage of therapeutic diets prescribed for inmates had been made more stringent, as the Department had been performing well in that regard.
Regarding community integration -- the number of offenders who participated in restorative justice programmes -- the Department needed to take a realistic look at that area based on the resources it had in place. It would need to look at the ratios between offenders and the offended who were participating. It would have to provide a more realistic reflection.
Mr Katenga continued his presentation by focusing on the performance indicators and targets by programme and sub programme.
Programme One: Administration.
Given the size of the workforce and the potential for corrupt activities, management was something the Department monitored very closely. 95% of cases of corrupt activities had seen it successfully intervene. For the 2017-18 period, it was sitting at 96% and the Department had decided to keep the target the same, considering the resources available.
Thr integrated communications and marketing strategy dealt with how the Department profiled itself to the public and how it communicated internally. As part of the strategy, there were 558 areas in which it had to interact. All 558 activities had to be achieved over the period.
In the human resources (HR) sub programme, the target for the number of officials trained in line with the workforce plan was 22 050 for 2018-19, increasing to 24 310 in 2021. In instances where the Department could train officials without cost implications, it could achieve a higher number than that. It had been looking at rolling out employee health and wellness programmes in the 46 management areas which constituted the DCS facilities. In 2018-19, there were only six management areas remaining where this programme would need to be rolled out, and as such those were the areas that would be covered. In 2019-20 there would be the remaining four, after which the Department would have finished coverage.
The finance sub-programme measured two key issues of how the Department managed its budget so that it did not overspend or underspend its allocation. The consistent target was to spend 99.75% of its budget. The Department strived not to have an audit qualification. In 2015-16, it had received an unqualified audit. In 2016-17 it had received a qualification on a technicality, but that issue had been resolved in the current financial year.
The Chairperson asked what the issue was.
Mr Katenga said it involved capital works in progress. The CFO would go into details during his financial report.
Regarding information technology (IT), the Department’s data had not been 100 percent reliable. One of the key issues was to phase the Department’s systems and have a fully digitized and integrated inmate management system (IIMS). The indicators for IT focused on how that would be implemented. The first indicator focused on the modules of the IIMS being developed. In 2018-19, the Department would complete the final phase of rolling out nine of the core modules. After that, it would look at rolling out the whole IIMS to its various sites. In 2018-19, it aims to roll this out to 20 sites, increasing to 80 by 2020-21. Part of being able to roll out the IIMS would be to ensure that the network infrastructure was in place. To do this, a local area network (LAN) infrastructure would need to be rolled out. For 2018-19, the Department was looking at rolling this out at 127 sites, increasing to 170 out of 360 by 2021. This would allow for more accurate reporting of offender information.
He elaborated on the automation of the APP indicators, which he felt would help with managing offenders by being more efficient when collecting offender data. For the 2018 financial year, the Department was looking at finalising the roll out of the key 11 indicators which were core to many of the other activities which the Department monitored. The less prioritised indicators would be rolled out in later years.
The judicial inspectorate still formed part of the Department’s budget allocation, so there was an indicator which encompassed the overall mandate of the inspectorate, namely the inspection of correctional facilities. The target was to inspect 81 correctional facilities in the current financial year so that all 243 correctional facilities would be inspected by 2020-21.
Programme Two: incarcerations.
The first sub-programme dealt with security operations. The target for the percentage of inmates who escaped from correctional centres and remand detention facilities had been set at 0.034%. The Department did not want to experience more than 56 escapes in the 2018-19 year. Tolerance levels of 4.7% of inmates injured because of reported assaults would be kept consistent to 2021. The target for the percentage of unnatural deaths in correctional centres and remand detention facilities would be kept at 0.032%, or 53 inmates for the three years to 2021.
The facilities sub-programme had two categories which were measured -- the number of new bed spaces created through the construction of new facilities, and the number of new bed-spaces created by upgrading of facilities annually. In 2018-19, the construction of a new facility in Tzaneen would provide an additional 435 bed-spaces. 504 additional bed-spaces would be created by upgrading facilities in 2018-19.
Mr Katenga elaborated on offender management. Firstly, the percentage of overcrowding in correctional facilities was expected to increase by one percent per year, from 38% in 2017-18. This was based on the factors which caused the increase in the prison population, some of which were outside the Department’s control. Secondly, the percentage of profiles submitted by case management committees stood at 91%, and the Department aimed to increase this to 93% over a three-year period. He addressed remand detention, focusing on the roll-out of a continuous risk assessment tool for remand detention facilities. The remaining 12 would be rolled out in 2018-19, after which the roll-out would be completed and the Department could focus on monitoring which would focus on the percentage reduction of remand detention facilities’ backlog in DCS facilities.
Programme Three: Rehabilitation.
This was an MTSF indicator which the Department had been achieving. The 80% target for the MTSF period was consistent with their initial target. In terms of offender development, 3 600 offenders had been in skills development programmes, which amounted to 80% of the targeted population. The targets for the number of offenders in adult education and further education in 2018-19 was 10 122 and 690 respectively. The target for the grade 12 pass rate had been set at 70%. He elaborated on psychological, social and spiritual services, noting targets of 18% in 2018-19, increasing to 20% of inmates involved in psychological services by 2020-21. The targeted percentage for inmates benefiting from spiritual services would increase from 60% to 64% over the same period.
With regard to health and hygiene services, the percentage target for offenders on Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) had been set at 98%. The percentage of therapeutic diets for inmates had been reduced, which would have an impact on the costs of providing nutrition, and which reflected the Department’s success in managing that area.
Programme Four: Social Reintegration.
The target was to have 97% of parolees and probationers without violations per year to the end of the MTSF period. There had been successes in that area. He referred to the differences in restorative justice programmes between victims and offenders, noting that one offender may impact more than one victim, which would affect the number in the programme. The target for the number of parolees and probationers reintegrated into communities through halfway houses was 160 in 2018-19, increasing to 180 in 2020-21. There had been a review on how the Department ran halfway houses.
The target for the number of service points established for community corrections would increase from 36 in 2018-19 to 48 in 2020-21. This would support parolees and probationers adhering to their parole conditions by allowing for more interaction with offenders. He stressed that the roll-out of these service points was critical.
Mr Nick Ligege, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): DCS, began by remarking on the qualified audit, saying that the Department had worked on resolving the basis of the qualification. The 2015-16 financial year had been the first time it had received an unqualified audit. In 2016-17 had been a new requirement to disclose capital works in progress – projects that were run and implemented by the Department of Public Works (DPW) on construction and upgrades of facilities. It was felt that that standard was a duplication of effort between the DCS and the DPW. It was quite difficult for the Department to disclose in terms of that standard, since the DPW was the custodian of the projects and had the source documents. Treasury had since withdrawn that requirement going forward, leaving it to the DPW. The DSC would not be required to comply with that requirement going forward.
Mr Ligege said that the Deputy Minister had indicated that there would be budget cuts, making this a difficult period for the Department. It would have to reprioritize or reduce targets due to the scarcity of resources. He would be presenting the impact of the cuts on service delivery.
The focus areas for the Department were rehabilitation, incarceration and corrections. Referring to the summary of allocations for the 2018 Medium Term Economic Framework (MTEF), it was important to see growth levels per programme, which would grow by an average of 6.1%. A decision had been made to reduce administration to fund other programmes. He outlined some of the growth in allocations per programme, including a five percent reduction in payment for capital assets. There were pressures on municipal services, such as water and electricity. Treasury determined the allocation for municipal services. High prison populations and dilapidated infrastructure resulted in water leakages, which led to higher than expected consumption.
Mr Ligege said that the Department was facing budget cuts of R605 million in 2018-19, rising to R709 million in 2020-21. He cited the need to fund free higher education as resulting in R40 billion in budget cuts across the Departments, and read the revised allocations for DCS over the next three years. He outlined the percentages of cuts in the presentations, stating that the Department had to select areas which would not have been affected in the short term. It would need to find solutions where there were cuts over the MTEF period. He presented the areas which would see cuts in its budget allocations before commenting that the DCS did not pay performance bonuses to Senior Managemenr Service (SMS) members, only to non-SMS members.
He elaborated on the impact of cuts to accommodation charges, saying that the one of the Department’s objectives was to ensure that incarceration conditions were humane. Cuts to the maintenance budget for DPW would have an impact in the medium to long term. He reminded Committee members that the DCS had old infrastructure which required maintenance, and these cuts would further exacerbate the condition of those facilities.
Mr Ligege commented on the cuts in performance bonuses, expressing concern about the impact on staff morale and staff turnover, particularly in the wake of overcrowding in facilities. Cuts to JICS would affect the number of visits to correctional facilities. The compensation of employees had been reduced by R3 billion due to austerity measures. The Department had a funded post establishment of 42 006 posts, which had been reduced to 39 101, with it being unable to fill any further positions due to budgetary constraints. 2 893 posts had had to be cut to align the Department with the compensation ceiling, and a further 876 posts had to be abolished due to budget cuts. Another financial pressure was the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) agreement signed with labour, which provided for backpay to correctional services people who were eligible, and would be paid over the next three years. He expressed concern that as the Department reduced posts, it ran the risk of governance and compliance challenges.
Budget cuts for goods and services had seen a reduction of R2.2 billion. Most of the budget for goods and services went towards healthcare, nutrition, food and travelling. The budget had increased by only 3.2%, which was insufficient. There was a need for an appropriate fleet of vehicles for the Department to visit parolees. The VAT increase would see costs rise by R158 million, which would have to be absorbed by the budget.
The capital assets budget had been reduced by R847 million, which meant that the Department had to stop buying equipment except for security. Other equipment for agricultural and production workshops would become redundant, and the Department would require funding for this. The Department’s infrastructure delivery programme, which sought to address overcrowding, would be affected by budget cuts, as the planned new correctional facilities would need human resources to be operationalised.
Mr Ligege spoke about the Department’s farming operations which produced food items with a view towards self-sufficiency and as a means for offenders to acquire skills. Drought had affected production levels. The reduction in the number of employees had also impacted operations. Offenders working at the production facilities needed to be guarded by staff, and the fewer staff at the production facilities had a knock-on effect on the number of offenders working and whether the facilities were producing at capacity. This could result in the Department having to source food from elsewhere, which also impacted on their budget. There was a need to budget for fleet, with R666 million required to replace vehicles and agricultural machinery over the next three years.
The cost drivers influencing the projections were the inmates in the DCS’s care, as well as the supervision of parolees and probationers. All those categories had grown, and were the drivers of expenditure.
He concluded by saying that the projected number of inmates in excess of the approved bed space was projected to increase from 46 132 in 2018-19, to 49 320 in 2020-21. This would need to be funded, as inmates had to be provided with hygiene services, medication, nutrition etc. He stressed that the Department embraced efficiency, cuts out waste and had not exceeded its budget in the previous financial year. This system would need to be taken care of, to break the cycle of crime in South Africa.
Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS)
Mr Vickash Misser, CEO: JICS, said the Inspectorate had only one indicator within the DCS, which was the 81 inspections traversing 243 correctional centres across the country. This indicator had been established to meet the five-year cycle of the MTSF up to 2043. He expressed concern over the limited resources at its disposal, noting that it had only five inspectors to do 81 inspections. JICS was in the process of restructuring this core function to increase its footprint and achieve its core mandate. He envisaged an increase to 123 inspections in a cycle to achieve at least 50% of visits in a cycle.
Prof Van der Westhuizen said that JICS had given a detailed presentation to the Portfolio Committee the previous day which he had no wish to repeat. JICS had been asked to put the presentation into writing, and it would be made available to the Committee. He felt that JICS was in much better shape than it had been two years prior in terms of operational possibilities, with there being a new CEO and vacancies being filled. He praised JICS’s cooperation with the ministry, commenting that the Deputy Minister had been encouraging JICS to have a higher public profile. Its cooperation with the Department was good, and JICS had good relationships with the commissioners and staff on the ground. He said that staff tended to have more complaints than inmates.
He commented on concerns around the independence of JICS, particularly pending litigation by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), attacking the constitutional validity of the Correctional Services Act and stating that JICS was not sufficiently independent. He said that there was a process under way to make JICS more independent, but stressed that independence was a state of mind. There had been no political interference from the Ministry. However, being located inside the DCS was frustrating for both parties.
There were some issues JICS did not understand about its budget. The Correctional Services Act required it to report on each inspection to the Minister and the Portfolio Committee. JICS provided annual and quarterly reports. Its latest reports were provided to the Ministry and the Portfolio Committee, and he queried what JICS’s obligations were to the Select Committee. JICS had decided to focus on systemic themes, such as overcrowding and violence, rather than specific instances.
Prof Van der Westhuizen expressed alarm over the state of facilities, noting that some were state of the art while others were in very bad shape. Examples of shortages of uniforms and shoes in winter; kitchens not being certified, concrete floors breaking up and ceilings of a cell not fitting, were given. On the latter example, he commented that beds had been taken away to prevent people escaping through ceilings. JICS did not know where the problem was. The ongoing refrain from DCS officials on the ground was that the problem lay with the DPW, but JICS itself had similar problems in its office where it took years for things to be done. He was looking for ways for JICS to investigate the problem which would fall within its mandate and limited capacity. Facilities were directly tied to overcrowding, violence and gangsterism. He provided an example of a state of the art facility near Kimberley which had a water pump system too sophisticated for local engineers to repair, resulting in no hot water. There was no one in the single cells, because the locks did not work.
He concluded that JICS was available to give its views and provide reports, and that the views he provided were tentative. He reiterated that the Portfolio Committee had been shocked at the facilities. Many things were very good, and South African correctional facilities were nowhere near the worst, but that was not the yardstick JICS used. He commended the record-keeping of officials and praised some of the facilities. He reiterated his concerns around systemic problems and speculated as to whether the problem was not the DCS, but rather the DPW.
Dr H. Mateme (ANC, Limpopo) asked to speak about an issue from her constituency, where the court had said six people had been killed and the suspects apprehended. Parents from both sides were present but could hardly hear what the magistrate was saying due to the sound system in that facility not working. Both sides of the case became increasingly angry with each other out of suspicion that the poor sound was a manipulation of the system.
She raised concerns about the abolition of posts, asking whether people had been fired, or if funded posts had been frozen. How did the Department balance the abolition of posts with high levels of unemployment, and particularly graduate unemployment in South Africa? To what extent did the Department in-source goods and services? She noted high levels of price inflation in government procurement, and said she hoped this did not occur in the DCS.
Ms B Engelbrecht (DA, Gauteng) expressed her appreciation for the comprehensive report, but expressed concern over machinery costs being reduced, and requesting an explanation. She did not see a target for filling vacancies, and asked for an update on the R15 million allocated for a feasibility study on remand detention facilities. She had noted a discrepancy in the beds referred to in the APP figures, as they differed from those included in national expenditure, and requested clarity on this.
One of government’s targets was to build safer communities, and she asked what practical steps the Department was introducing for reintegrating offenders. She asked whether electronic tagging of inmates was being done, and concluded by noting that the targets for HIV testing no longer included awareness of the results, and asked what the reason for this was.
Mr G Michalakis (DA, Free State) expressed sympathy for the Deputy Minister and the issues he had to deal with, and hoped that he would take his comments as constructive criticism. He expressed concern that at any time, if a young person committed a crime due to circumstances or a single stupid decision, it was effectively a life lost because of going to prison. The nature of South African prisons made rehabilitation and finding work difficult. He welcomed the comment on the need to restructure the system being a matter of urgency, as well as the White Paper of 2015, but felt that the plan on paper would work only in an ideal world or with a larger budget. It was becoming increasingly difficult to implement the plan with budget cuts. He felt that the Department needed to reprioritise taking the budget into account, and figure out what it could realistically do.
He said that when one thought of the DCS, one thought of prisons, and while it encompassed so much more, due to budgetary constraints the Committee was able to focus only on prisons. There was no scope to look at correctional services instead of prisons. He stressed that the plan did not speak to the limited budget and that the priority should be to rehabilitate inmates. He felt that once the Deputy Minister looked at the priorities and what it could achieve with the budget, it could start changing the Department.
Mr J Mthethwa (ANC, Kwazulu Natal) asked the delegation how corruption was monitored in the Department, and whether it had any results that it could mention. The presentation had referred to providing ‘a safe and secure correctional environment for inmates,’ before mentioning escapes. He asked how escapes happened, given the nature of the facilities and the security. He also expressed concern that by setting a percentage target for escapes, the Department was expecting them to happen anyway.
He asked the CFO what he did about posts when he embarked on freezing them. Were the posts ineffective or were people working overtime? How would the Department open new correctional facilities in the wake of freezing posts? Prof Van der Westhuizen had mentioned that staff complained more often than inmates, and he asked what the common complaints were.
Mr Mthethwa addressed his final question for the Deputy Minister, asking if there was a plan to restructure the correctional services budget, and whether the Department could run centres with the limited budget it hasd. If there was no plan, what would the Department do the following year if the budget was reduced again?
Ms T Mokwele (EFF, North West) thanked the Deputy Minister for always being available. She said that the presentation had not highlighted the budgets that were allocated for private correctional centres. How much did the state spend on them? How long would those facilities be there and why? When would the Department conclude that? Who was benefiting from those facilities?
In the previous year, the Department had mentioned security measures for parolees, such as electronic tags, and asked how much the Department had spent since the previous budget. How much was the Department going to spend? Was the electronic tagging system working for the country and if not, what did the Department intend on doing?
She expressed concern about officials reaching the ceiling for promotion, saying that it would result in officials being demoralized and unable to perform their duties, and speculated that this was why some officials engaged in illegal activities. Senior Management Service employees did not receive bonuses, so she asked how those employees were performing and what the Department was doing to retain and motivate them.
She commented on the ratio between officials and inmates, referring to the example of Pollsmoor, where inmates escaped because the ratio of officials to inmates was low. If there were not enough officers to monitor the inmates, it would result in illegal activities. She was concerned about budget cuts, and asked why there had been budget cuts for the previous three financial years. What was the Department doing to improve in its plans? Had it had thought of prioritising its needs, since it was struggling with resources?
There had been 55 disciplinary cases for smuggling in 2015-16 and 2016-17, rising to 58 in 2017-18. She felt that if the number of cases was staying the same or increasing, it was evidence of problems in the system. She was not convinced by the escape figures, and expressed doubt as to whether the figures given were real cases or done for the sake of the presentation.
She expressed frustration at the DCS complaining to the Committee about the DPW, and asked it to refrain from doing so. Ministers sat in Cabinet meetings where each one presented their programmes. Within Cabinet there were intergovernmental relations. She asked why the Department did not confront the DPW, and questioned whether it gave its programmes, plans and budgets for the DPW to include the DCS in their own plans. What were the DCS and the DPW discussing in intergovernmental relations?
Ms Mokwele said that where the Department was lacking was in its vacancy rate. It needed professionals, given the vacancy levels among the professional layers. She questioned whether it had a retention strategy or a system to attract skilled personnel to assist the Department.
Mr D Ximbi (ANC, Western Cape) said that the Committee had visited the Umtata correctional service facility, which was in a bad state. Luckily there was an official from the DPW who promised that there was a plan for the centre. He asked whether there was any update on the facility. There had been mention of attacks or intimidation of JICS staff, and he asked if there was any way to protect their staff so they could do their work. He also mentioned instances in KZN where citizens were being denied the right to visit inmates.
The Chairperson asked whether the Department had considered outsourcing some services to handle serving the needs of prisoners. He clarified that he was not for privatization, but felt that public-private partnerships were the best way.
Deputy Minister Makwetla thanked Members for their questions. Officials from the Department would provide information related to the questions in accordance with their responsibilities or functions.
Mr Katenga clarified the apparent discrepancy in the figures for correctional centres. He said the Department had correctional centres and community corrections sites. The figure of 461 was inclusive of community corrections sites, whereas the figure of 360 referred to corrections centres only. Security indicators were for the number of people, rather than the number of instances.
He elaborated on how the DCS’s implementation of strategy was structured in reference to targets for vacancies. APP indicators were considered where they were core to achieving strategic objectives. On the vacancies indicator for 2017-18, fully funded posts stood at around 39 246, but at the time it had been looking at a post establishment of around 41 462. Available funding for 2018-19 was such that the Department could fund only around 39 000 posts. In effect, there were no vacancies because it could not fund the 41 462 posts. Therefore, the filling of vacancies had been achieved at a strategic level and moved down to an operational level, to be reviewed on an ongoing basis. This was similar for HIV indicators, which had been achieved at a strategic level and moved to an operational level.
Mr Ligege addressed the question of in-sourcing goods and services, and said that the Department would combine in-sourcing and outsourcing, particularly regarding nutrition, hygiene and healthcare services. It had outsourced only at the big management areas such as Pollsmoor, as well as at some smaller areas such as KZN and the Northern Cape, which were further away. Hygiene items were bought by the Department. The DCS had its own clinics, but purchased medication from pharmaceuticals. Where a special service was needed, it used public hospitals and was expected to pay a private rate.
On self-sustainability, he said that the DSC had 21 farms which produced milk, eggs, pork, crops and vegetables. He offered to provide the Committee with production statistics if it wanted them. The Department had bakeries where it produced bread which was distributed within its facilities. It could expand that capacity, but would require investment for buying ovens, mixers etc.
Mr Ligege addressed the question about high or exorbitant prices, and said that when the Department purchased externally it would analyse the price per item annually to identify where there were deviations from the norm in order to engage with the responsible management areas in order to reduce the prices. On the question of machinery costs, the budget for the replacement and purchase of new machinery had been reduced because of general cuts in the overall budgets. This would have an impact on production in the Department.
He responded to the question about private prisons by referring to a section of the presentation which which outlined the budget allocated for private correctional centres. The Kutama Sinthumule facility in Limpopo ended on 15 February 2027, while the Mangaung correctional centre ended on 30 June 2026. The index fee was the service that the Department rendered because it paid per bed space in those facilities over the year. The budget allocated for the two facilities was R959 million for operating costs, and the R89 million capital fee was the repayment for the building. The Department would finish paying for Kutama Sinthumule at the end of February 2019. From the following year, the Department would be paying only operating costs, and by 2026-27 these facilities would be returned to the Department to operate.
Mr Ligege said that he did not have details on how much had been paid for electronic tags, as there was ongoing litigation between that the Department and the service provider. He offered to provide the Committee with the relevant documents.
Ms Linda Bond, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Human Resources, responded to the question about abolishing posts in the wake of high unemployment. Because of budget cuts, the Department had a funded staff establishment of 41 462, but the actual funded establishment for 2017-18 was 39 101, and for 2018-19 it would be 39 621. The Department had to place a partial moratorium on the filling of positions. Nonetheless, positions were being filled at the correctional centres and rehabilitation posts where the Department had given allocations to regions to fill. It would continue with recruitment for learnership programmes, which were the feeder for entry level correctional service work. This had been provided for in the HR budget and planning tool. The learnerships impacted on unemployment, as it targeted both matriculants and unemployed graduates.
Ms Bond acknowledged that freezing posts had affected the functions of the Department and that people had to double up. This was an unfortunate consequence, and impacted on ratios. Although there was a straight ratio of one official to five offenders, this was not a real reflection of what happened at the centres. Some ratios would require two officials for every heinous offender. She stressed that the budget cuts were having a negative impact, commenting that when the structure had been developed the Department was meant to have a total staff establishment of 62 000, although this was being reviewed.
As part of its strategy to handle corruption, the DCS focused on prevention, investigation and sanction. It had two dedicated units established in terms of the Correctional Services Act -- the Departmental Investigation Unit and the Code Enforcement Unit -- which were responsible for investigating and instituting disciplinary proceedings. There were also proactive initiatives such as workshops on ethics and anti-corruption. The Department had training sessions on the code of conduct. The Code Enforcement Unit had investigated 106 transgressions, with 102 officials being found guilty. Sanctions included suspensions, dismissals and written warnings. Addressing whether disciplinary matters were reducing, she said that unfortunately the Department continued to exercise consequence management. Measures were in place to tell officials the type of behaviour expected, but some deviant behaviour persisted.
Regarding officials who had reached the ceiling in terms of promotions, Ms Bond said the Department was concerned about officials who were at the production level. The OSD had made provision for grade progression for officials at this level. It had also made provision for supervisory posts and advanced production posts which the Department was looking into, but this was constrained by the limited budget.
She addressed escapes, saying that in terms of disciplinary cases, this was a true reflection of the number of escapes. These were the cases in the disciplinary case process or had been finalised, but it did not include those cases at the investigation stage.
Ms Bond responded to questions about vacancies, clarifying that the CB and NCB categories referred to centre based and non-centre based personnel. For centre-based correctional service officials, the biggest vacancy was at entry level, which would be dealt with through learnerships. Regarding a recruitment strategy for professionals, there was a recruitment and retention strategy which was under review. This allowed for bursaries for critical skills. The DCS had a community service programme with the Department of health for psychologists and pharmacists, some of whom would stay on following their community service. The recruitment and retention strategy allowed for the head-hunting of candidates to target scarce and critical skills. However, some professions had a nationwide shortage across the departments. The environment of correctional facilities was not always conducive for some people to work in.
Mr Lucky Mthethwa, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Security Officer: DCS, elaborated on the targets for escapees. The Department knew that it could not allow the escape of offenders in line with their mandate. The reality of overcrowding in facilities suggested that strategically, if it happened, at least it would not go over a certain percentage. Regrettably, the Department had included a margin of 0.034%, but it had procedures to curb escapes which were enhanced pending annual reviews. Sophisticated criminals became smarter with changes in technology, but it was the Department’s responsibility was to ensure that this did not happen by emphasising policies and procedures.
It would be beefing up night shift visits by officials so that those who worked night shift at facilities knew that the facilities were being monitored. There were fewer officials on duty at night due to inmates being locked up, with some inmates becoming aware of this and taking advantage of it. The Department would increase the number of night shift staff to deal with this. Better reporting on breakouts would also help in this regard, as much of the infrastructure was very old and could increase the likelihood of escapes. There were fewer instances of escapes in the newer infrastructure, and these were largely due to the negligence of staff.
Mr Mthethwa said that the Department was aware of the smuggling of items and was emphasising compliance with policy and procedures, during morning parades and by training officials. Daily searches would be done, and visitors and members would be searched as well.
Mr Delekile Klaas, Western Cape Regional Commissioner: DCS, clarified that when the Pollsmoor escape happened there had been only one official on duty with 240 offenders. He said that there were fewer staff on duty which impacted on the monitoring of offenders. Despite these challenges, the previous year had seen almost 80 attempts at escape which had been thwarted, with an average of 12 offenders per escape attempt. Correctional officials were more vigilant and there were more incidents of prevented escapes than actual escapes.
In both 1995 and 2005 there had been over 1 000 escapes, and now the number was below 100. He mentioned a gang unit called “Airforce,” which specialised in escaping from prisons, but this gang was no longer as powerful as it had been. While incidents in Pollsmoor and Johannesburg concerned correctional officials, after meeting with crime intelligence it was satisfied that it was not a re-emergence of Airforce.
Mr Klaas felt that the Department needed to understand the type of offenders the Department was dealing with and the communities the offenders came from. He felt that the type of offenders that the Department was dealing with was increasingly bold and violent, giving the example of people committing crime despite knowing that security cameras were present. The DCS should work more closely with other Departments, such as the Department of Social Development (DSD) to mobilise communities around crime prevention, rather than merely managing what was already in the system. Government should deal with the causes of crime.
Mr James Smalberger, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Incarcerations and Corrections, DCS, responded to the question about the R15 million feasibility study which would be on eight new centres across the country, providing an additional 18 000 bed spaces. The DCS had a service level agreement with the DPW, which expired the following year. The Department was already starting with the renewal of that agreement. He felt that it was important to split public works into capital works and accommodation charges.
Regarding capital works, the DCS did not have qualified engineers. A decision had been taken to correct those areas and DCS had appointed a number of people who could help with project management and look into projects managed by the DPW to ensure that its interests were being taken care of.
Accommodation charges referred to the maintenance of facilities, and were a bigger problem. The way government was structured, with DPW doing accommodation charges there was no control over the amount. According to Treasury prescripts, the DCS would have to pay the invoices from DPW, which were provided without any detailed breakdown. The CFO would elaborate on this. He confirmed that the DCS and the DPW met on a regular basis and this would be ongoing.
Regarding JICS staff not having access to correctional centres, he said that in terms of the Correctional Services Act, all JICS staff had access to these centres. If there were any cases where this was not happening, the Department would need to intervene.
Prof Van der Westhuizen asked for an opportunity to speak. He said that the attacks on JICS staff had nothing to do with the Department. One JICS official had had a bucket of faeces thrown at her which had apparently been aimed at a correctional services official. The same official had been forced off the road by a vehicle on the way to Kgosi Mampuru. This was not to be blamed on the Department. He confirmed that JICS had been denied access to a facility in Matatiele in March 2018.
The Chairperson asked Prof Van der Westhuizen to provide the Committee with a report on all the cases where JICS had been denied access.
Prof Van der Westhuizen said that the staff complaints he had referred to earlier were about the state of facilities, including poor conditions in offices and rainwater streaming through the ceilings. JICS did not blame the DPW, as it did not know where the problem was, but there was a serious problem.
Mr Makwetla thanked the officials of the Department and expressed the hope that everything said had been an accurate reflection of what happened on the ground. He noted an off the record comment by one of the officers, which was not true. In terms of the Public Service Act, officials of government were not allowed to mislead when they provided information to Parliament. Parliament could decide to contest the information.
He said there was difficulty in answering some of the questions raised. He said the Department’s ability to plan was based on resources at its disposal, and Parliament was critical to its ability to deliver. The Department was committed to improving its planning culture, because the problems it faced were immense. The Ministry was not happy with the levels of planning at that time, but was committed to improving. He felt that the DCS was at the lower end of the value chain of the criminal justice system -- it could plan, but would not always be in control of what happened. This was another challenge. The DCS needed to have contingency measures to deliver its mandate.
The DCS had previously been the Department of Prisons, and its shift had moved away from merely prioritising the security of inmates towards including rehabilitation and correction, with no commensurate increase in budget. It was working with the same budget projections it had been working with before its expanded focus. This had to be raised within Parliament. The budget cuts had created problems which would make the Department liable. Budget cuts had occurred since 1994 as government aggressively pushed resources towards social sector needs and away from security. In the current financial year, the Department had been under-resourced to assist funding free higher education. Plans should not compromise the targets which had been initially projected. There were revised targets around HIV and AIDS. It was two years since the health system had come up with the policy of testing and treating, which had also been introduced in correctional services. The cuts posed serious challenges to the work of the DCS.
Mr Makwetla felt that the request for the DCS to not to complain to the Committee about the DPW was fair. However, this impacted on the Department’s ability to conduct maintenance and build infrastructure, and it was not the only department with this issue. Government must look at the problem of infrastructure delivery and see how best it could be resolved. The DCS had asked the DPW to devolve responsibility for the maintenance of infrastructure to it. It had tried to improve memorandum of understanding between the two Departments, but the improvement had been marginal. He concluded by saying that the DCS was doing everything possible.
The Chairperson thanked the delegation and Committee Members.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Correctional Facilities on Annual Performance Plan and Budget
- JICS Annual Report (2016/2017)
- Status of Vacancies Disciplinary Cases Shift Pattern: DCS presentation
- Department of Correctional Services Report
- Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services : JICS Annual Performance Plan 2018/19
- Status of Vacancies and Disciplinary Cases: Select Committee meeting 13 June 2018
- DCS 2018/19 Budget and APP summary and analysis
- Comments on Written Department of Correctional Services Responses / Information Provided