The Committee received briefings on the audit outcomes of the justice and correctional services portfolio. In addition, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons presented their 2017/18 Annual Reports. Both Deputy Ministers were present at the meeting.
The Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) reported that the DCS received a qualified opinion. The financial statements submitted had material adjustments which was similar to the prior year. The performance reports submitted had material adjustments which was the same as the previous year. There were findings on compliance with legislation. The irregular expenditure increased from R836 million to R1,897 billion. There was a reduction in the creditor-payment period from the previous year, which has resulted in a decrease in total accruals. However, accruals over 30 days are still material, which will have an impact on the 2018/2019 budget. Fruitless and wasteful expenditure increased from R1 million to R41 million in the current financial year 2017/2018. It was as a result of interest, penalties, and cancellation fees. Irregular expenditure increased from R836 million to R1.897 billion (more than 100% increase). The AGSA recommended that the Portfolio Committee continues to monitor the financial health of the Department, the implementation of the integrated justice system at DCS (IIMS) and monitor progress made on upgrading of facilities.
The Committee was concerned about the exponential increase in irregular expenditure. It was also concerned about the lack of implementation of post-audit implementation plans. They asked what the response of the Ministry was in light of audit outcome of the internal controls that had no improvement.
In respect of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and associated entities, the AGSA reported that there was a regression in terms of the compliance with laws and regulations. The regression was a decrease in compliance from 78% to 67%. Irregular expenditure also increased from R47 million in the previous year to R156.4 million. The DoJ was found to be qualified with regards to the leave entitlement of magistrates. The Department of Justice (DoJ) and Public Protector submitted financial statements that had material misstatements which resulted in material findings in those particular areas. The South African Human Rights Commission also had material findings in the procurement contract management development. The South African Human Rights Commission was the one entity that moved from a clean audit in the previous year to a non-clean audit in the current year mainly due to procurement challenges.
The AGSA indicated that the Public Protector of South Africa (PPSA) is insolvent. The Committee heard that the DoJCD has not effectively recovered debt from other state entities for legal services provided through the state attorney. As a result the bank overdraft of the department has significantly increased. Fruitless expenditure amounted to R49 million, an increase from R3 million in the previous year. There was also instability in the DoJCD due to vacancies in key positions.
Members were pleased that the Third Party Fund was eventually unqualified. Members were concerned by the challenge faced by the DoJCD of the non-payments when the State Attorney does cases for other departments. They also raised the matter of leave for magistrates.
The Deputy Minister of Correctional Services assured the Committee that the DCS has sought to maintain stability by amongst other things, the filling of strategic vacancies to realise the objective of reintegration and rehabilitation. The Department successfully placed 86 518 (82%) of sentenced offenders on various correctional programs in 2017/2018. The Department recorded a good performance on probationer and parolee compliance with placement conditions. Off the 54 000 and more parolees, 53 615 (99%) parolees complied with their conditions. 15 914 probationers (99%) out of 16 131 also complied with their conditions. The number of inmates initiated on anti-retroviral treatment during the current financial year increased by 1 936 from 34516 in 2016/2017.
Members were very concerned about the estimated 1200 mentally ill-inmates who are in prison. They believed that mentally-ill patients should be in a health institution and not prisons. The Committee expressed disappointment with the fact that DCS had planned to create 492 bed spaces whereas no bed spaces were actually. Overcrowding had increased from 29% to 38%.
The Committee heard that the DCS disciplinary matters had increased significantly with 1700 people receiving written warnings. The Department has 992 employees who are repeatedly absent from work without a valid reason.
The Committee heard that JICS was looking into the situation of mentally inmates as it has come to the attention of the Inspecting Judge recently. As far as growth is concerned, JICS is in the process of moving the head office from Cape Town. The George office or former Southern Management Area (SMR) is being moved to East London. On an operational level, especially with regards to finance, the Inspecting Judge stated that it was difficult for JICS. JICS is financially located within the Department of Correctional Services and it has had battles around its budget. The battles do not only relate to the total amount but also which items it is allocated to. The Inspecting Judge emphasised that JICS was independent and would not be told by anyone or any entity what to report. With regards to inspections in the current year, JICS has conducted 123 inspections of the 243 centres.
Members complained about under-expenditure by the JICS and prison conditions.
Election of Acting Chairperson
The Committee Secretary greeted the Committee. He asked Members to elect a Chairperson since the Committee did not have a Chairperson.
Ms G Breytenbach (DA) nominated Mr S Swart (ACDP). She was seconded by Mr J Selfe (DA).
Mr M Maila (ANC) nominated Ms M Mothapo (ANC). He was seconded by Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC).
Three members voted for Mr Swart while six members voted for Ms Mothapo.
The Committee Secretary declared Ms Mothapo as the new Chairperson.
The Chairperson greeted and thanked the Committee Members and all the officials present.
Briefing by the Auditor General (AGSA) on the Audit Outcomes of the Department of Correctional Services
Ms Michelle Mageman, Senior Manager: Correctional Services, AGSA, stated that the AGSA has a constitutional mandate and, as the supreme audit institution (SAI) of South Africa, exists to strengthen the country’s democracy by enabling oversight, accountability and governance in the public sector through auditing, thereby building public confidence. She hoped that the AGSA would give the Committee enough information to perform its oversight role.
The Department of Correctional Service did not receive a clean audit. The financial statements submitted had material adjustments which was similar to the prior year. The performance reports submitted had material adjustments which were the same as the previous year. There were findings on compliance with legislation. Irregular expenditure increased from R836 million to R1,897 billion.
A four-year trend of the Department revealed that it had sustained the qualified opinion. There was an improvement in the 2015/2016 financial year that could not be sustained for the past two years. The qualification opinion for the Department was on commitments. This meant that the Department could not disclose the contracts it was committed to over the next five years. The AGSA could not obtain this information and confirm what the Department had disclosed in the financial statements in terms of how much funds, how many contracts it had entered into and how much the Department would have committed to pay in five years from now.
With regards to the status on internal controls that led to the qualification, the AGSA looked at leadership, financial and performance management and governance.
On leadership, there was a lack of adequate oversight responsibility regarding financial reporting and compliance as well as inadequate implementation of action plans to address prior year audit findings.
On financial and performance management: the AGSA found inadequate implementation of proper record keeping in a timely manner to ensure that complete, relevant and accurate information is accessible and available to support financial and performance reporting. There was inadequate implementation of controls over daily and monthly processing and reconciling of transactions, a lack of regular, accurate and complete financial and performance reports that are supported and evidenced by reliable information.
In terms of governance: the AGSA found insufficient capacity in internal audit function and lack of skills to review financial statements as well as information systems audits
An assessment of assurance providers revealed that on the first level, the senior management and the accounting officer provide had limited or no assurance whereas the executive authority provides assurance. On the second level the internal audit unit provides limited or no assurance while the audit committee provides some assurance. On the third level, the Portfolio Committee provides assurance.
The AGSA also looked at a plan-do-check framework, a key element it looks at when it engages with the accounting officers and the Minister. When the Department is planning it should clearly define its targets, on the doing stage- the Department needs to implement the basic controls and provide supervision. It must also check- this is where it reviews the financial statements and reports. Where there are errors identified consequence management must come into play. This would improve audit outcomes and an impact on the lives of the citizens.
The evaluation of the plan-do-check finds that with regards to the status of audit action plans – plans were not adequately implemented. With regards to the usefulness of performance indicators and targets, no findings were raised. The indicators are measurable and fit the mandate of the Department, thus they are useful. However, there were findings on the reporting of the indicators. Material adjustments were found during the auditing on the performance information.
With regards to the do-step: overall internal controls – there were no improvements. Basic financial and performance management controls improved slightly. The ICT controls had slight improvements. There were no vacancies in CFO positions- no findings were raised. There were still some vacancies challenges in the Department.
In terms of the check- step: in respect of assurance provided by the senior management and accounting officers there was no improvement while there were no concerns raised with the Minister. There was no improvement on internal audit units and audit committees. There were also no concerns raised on the Portfolio Committee.
The AGSA identified that the financial health of the Department remains a concern. There was a reduction in the creditor-payment period from the previous year, which has resulted in a decrease in total accruals. However, accruals over 30 days are still material, which will have an impact on the 2018/2019 budget.
The net current liability position is concerning and is a significant indicator that the Department is having challenges managing cash and will not be able to settle short-term debts when they become due. There was a slight increase in accruals over 30 days as a percentage of the total accruals balance and an increase in the overdraft.
There was no unauthorised expenditure in the current year. Unauthorised, irregular as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure increased over four years. Fruitless and wasteful expenditure increased from R1 million to R41 million in the period under review. It was as a result of interest, penalties, and cancellation fees.
Irregular expenditure increased. Expenditure had incurred in contravention of key legislation. Goods were delivered but prescribed processes not followed. 100% of the irregular expenditure incurred in 2017/18 as a result of the contravention of SCM legislation.
A risk of unauthorised expenditure as well as payments not paid within specified time was found. The Department’s payables - which exceed the payment term of 30 days’ - amount to R281 629 000. This amount, in turn, exceeds the voted funds to be surrendered of R26 015 000 as per the statement of financial performance. The R255 614 000 would therefore have constituted unauthorised expenditure had the amounts due been paid in a timely manner.
Irregular expenditure increased from R836 million to R1.897 billion (more than 100% increase). R1.756 billion of the irregular expenditure was payments/ expenses in previous years disclosed for the first time in 2017/18; the amount was disclosed as irregular expenditure under investigation in 2016/17. If the non-compliance is not investigated and condoned, the payments on multi-year contracts continue to be viewed and disclosed as irregular expenditure.
The analysis shows that of the R 1.897 billion irregular expenditure disclosed, 7% (R140 million) represents non-compliance that occurred in 2017/18 financial year. R836 million represents non-compliance that occurred in 2016/17.
The most common findings on the supply chain management was on the competitive bidding not invited, declaration of interest not applied or incorrectly applied, criteria applied in evaluation differed from originally specified, inadequate contract performance measures and monitoring and three written quotations not invited. The non-compliance identified was mainly on the competitive bidding not identified.
With regards to potential fraud and consequence management, the auditee had findings on non-compliance with legislation on consequence management. 30% of the irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure reported was investigated while 70% had not yet been investigated. 100% of these investigations took longer than three months. There were 10 employees that failed to disclose interest in suppliers and 45 other SCM findings reported to management for investigations.
There were two main root causes to the findings aforementioned. The first cause was that management (accounting officers and senior management) do not respond with the required urgency to AGSA messages about addressing risks and improving internal controls. The second cause was that management does not adequately follow up on long outstanding investigations timeously for transgressors of laws and regulations.
In the prior year, the AGSA had agreed on status of key commitments with the Department’s portfolio committee. The commitment to monitor the financial health of the Department, the monitoring of the filling of vacancies of the National Commissioner and regional commissioner, the monitoring of the implementation plan to address audit findings and management action to instil a culture of consequence management for transgressions of laws, rules and regulations were completed.
The commitment to monitor the implementation of the integrated justice system at DCS (IIMS) was in progress. The commitment to monitor the progress mode on upgrading of facilities had not been implemented.
The AGSA makes the recommendation that: the Portfolio Committee continue to monitor the financial health of the Department, the implementation of the integrated justice system at DCS (IIMS) and monitor progress made on upgrading of facilities.
Mr Swart thanked the AGSA for the presentation. He asked if there has been a deterioration in the DCS over the current year as compared to other years as irregular expenditure has exponentially increased to R1.8 billion. He requested an explanation on the note which stated that most part of the irregular expenditure was a contract with the Independent Development Trust (IDT).
The Committee was aware that there are ongoing investigations by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU). Given the irregularities in the procurement that the AGSA had pointed out, should the SIU not increase its investigation to include matters up to date as well?
In the financial statement, the AGSA refers to the ongoing commitments on page 120. He expressed that he did not understand the note and asked for clarity.
He referred to future contingencies which were court liabilities on note 20 of the financial statement. He asked if contingent liabilities were under points of emphasis by the AGSA opinion.
Mr W Horn (DA) referred to the previous year, where it was reported that that there was R836 million in irregular expenditure and R707 million was in respect of one contract. Was the growth to R1.756 billion and the reference to more than R1.7 billion to that one contract? Was it the very same contract?
He asked what the status of the specific indicator on which the audit ultimately turned to qualified was in the previous year. To the best of his analysis the audit outcome in the previous year rested mainly on the matter of unreliable information pertaining to overcrowding together with some financial issues. He asked the AGSA to apprise the Committee on whether the main reason for the audit outcome was a new one and how it came about.
Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) asked what the response of the Ministry was in light of audit outcome of the internal controls where there was no improvement.
Mr Maila stated that the audit refers to plans that were not adequately implemented. He asked whether the AGSA has regular interactions with the Department or it only interacts now. What was done when the AGSA realised that the plans were not being correctly implemented?
Mr Selfe noted that the recommendations for the Portfolio Committee this year cover three aspects. He though that the biggest issue in the Department was the lack of consequence management. Why was consequence management not monitored throughout the year?
Mr D Van Rooyen (ANC) stated that the lack of implementation of post action plan came out very sharply in the presentation by the AGSA. He asked if the AGSA had realised any improvement in that respect as the content of the presentation suggested otherwise.
Secondly, the matter of credit payments made within 30 days is of national importance. Failure to adhere to this provision has an adverse effect to the broader transformation mandate because it negatively affects small-medium size companies as they do not have the capacity to sustain some of these operations if they are not paid on time. Why was this not made one of the priorities for the Committee to investigate?
Mr Mpumlwana asked whether the DCS had improved after the AGSA had initially advised it to improve on certain issues before the final audit.
Response by the Auditor General
In response to the question about the irregular expenditure as well as the deterioration in the Department, Ms Mageman stated that the internal controls for leadership, financial and governance remain unchanged. The AGSA did not find the movement required to shift a qualified audit to an unqualified audit. It also picked up the specific areas that the Department must address in order to improve those internal controls.
Last year, the AGSA identified irregular expenditure of R836 million as non-compliance. On contracts that were entered into in 2017/2018, the AGSA identified R140 million in non-compliance. When looking at expenditure, the AGSA also identified that in previous years, supply chain management was not necessarily followed. However, the AGSA only picked the matter up this year but the contract was awarded in the previous year. Irregular expenditure for the current year was thus the R1.756 billion plus the R140 million which makes up R1.89 million as the closing balance in the current year.
The AGSA is aware that the SIU is taking long to complete its investigation. Unfortunately, it cannot give SIU investigations. It only meets with SIU to get a list of their on-going investigations just to put this in the report and if there is a risk area.
In response to the qualification on commitments, the standard required is that the Department needs to disclose the future commitments (what contract it had entered into and how much it had committed to pay). When the AGSA looked at what was disclosed and what the contracts were, in some instances there were limitations because it could not calculate what the government had committed to in the future. This was the reason for the qualification.
Contingent liabilities were emphasised in the audit report so that the users are aware that there are law cases that are pending. The AGSA cannot say whether the Department will win or lose. However, in terms of reasonability and the amount, the AGSA assesses the reasonability of a win or loss and how much the Department would pay if it lost.
The internal controls on the commitments were unchanged from a daily, monthly and processing of reconciliation, proper record keeping and preparing regular complete financial performance reports. It is the same internal controls that should have been implemented.
There are action plans in the Department but due to the nature of the decentralisation of the Department, implementing and tracking of the action plans did seem to be a challenge.
The AGSA does meet the senior management of the Department quarterly to give them the status of records and this is how AGSA comes up with the internal controls.
Consequence management is a concern and there is no reason it should not part of the Portfolio Committee recommendations.
Briefing by the Auditor General on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Office of the Chief Justice
Mr Rehaan Mohamed Alli, Senior Manger: Justice, AGSA, stated that the briefing would cover the Department of Justice, the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) and the Constitutional Development institutions (the Public Protector, the President’s Fund, the government fund, SIU, the Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) as well as the other bodies). There were nine entities included in the briefing.
With regards to the department portfolio, clean audits increased from 56% in the previous year to 67% in the current financial year. The clean audits incorporate performance in information as well as the compliance element.
The quality of financial statements also improved from 78% to 89%. The quality of performance reports increased from 50% in the previous year to 67% in the current year. The Department of Justice (DoJ) and Public Protector submitted financial statements that had material misstatements which resulted in material findings in those particular areas.
Particular focus is drawn to the performance report by the DoJ which notes material findings of the usefulness and the reliability of the information. With regards to the plans tabled by the Department, the targets were useful. The problem occurred in how the plan to execution was processed. Therefore, the Department of Justice had material findings in terms of programme 2 which focuses on court services. Information was being captured very late.
There has been a regression in terms of the compliance with laws and regulations. The regression was a decrease in compliance from 78% to 67%. The irregular expenditure also increased from R47 million in the previous year to R156.4 million.
The SAHRC had material findings in the procurement contract management development. There were some deviations that were approved that were not necessarily justifiable.
With regards to the Department of Justice, one of the biggest issues with contract management is the matter of the state attorney’s legal expenditure. The State Attorney represents all government departments in terms of litigation. It also outsources legal expertise from the private sector as it does not necessarily have the capacity to do everything itself. However, the process used to elect the private legal expertise is not compliant with the current Treasury Regulations. There are no exemptions received to deviate from the Treasury Regulations and this has resulted in a significant non-compliance. The significant concern is that all other entities utilise the State Attorney’s office and it might result in overspending for other entities as a result of the non-compliance that occurs at the State Attorney’s Office. This is one area he would recommend that the Portfolio Committee focuses on in terms of the procurement process. A documented process would limit the potential for corruption.
In the Department of Justice as a whole, there is a movement towards clean audits. The SAHRC was the one entity that moved from a clean audit in the previous year to a non-clean audit in the current year mainly due to procurement challenges.
In the previous year the Department of Justice was qualified on capital works in progress; however it was no longer required by National Treasury to report on infrastructure projects that were implemented by Public Works and PMTE and were included in its financial disclosures – this is largely why the qualification from the previous year was addressed to an unqualified audit.
With regards to the leave entitlement of magistrates, the auditee was found to be qualified. The DoJ along with the SAHRC does not have adequate systems and process in place to ensure that all magistrates leave is timeously captured.
The Department was qualified in respect of contingent liabilities. Contingent liabilities amounted to R2 272 039 million. The information contained in the register of claims against the Department was not complete and timeously updated with the latest events of particular case, thereby overstating the contingent liabilities. The Department merely included the summons amount in the disclosure.
The Department was also qualified on intangible assets which amounted to R73 480. The Department did not fully comply with the accounting standards in that no system is in place to identify and record intangible assets, the balance is potentially materially understated.
With regards to other financial assets, the audit opinion was unqualified. The portion of the opening balance for which the AGSA was unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence has reduced significantly and the limitations were not considered material.
With regards to the status of internal controls, seven out of the nine entities were found to have improved in leadership. The required preventative controls were in place. The DoJ and PP were found to have made some progress but improvement was still required.
The SAHRC had made progress on implementing controls in financial and performance management but still required improvement. In the DoJ and PP, internal controls were either not in place or not properly designed and intervention is required.
With regards to the governance of internal controls, the DoJ and PP need improvement.
In terms of financial health and financial management: material uncertainty exists whether 16.5% of the auditees can continue to operate in future.
The key concerns identified are that the Public Protector is factually insolvent and therefore significant doubt exists on the constitutional institution’s ability to discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business.
Secondly, the DoJ has not effectively recovered debt from other state entities for legal services provided through the state attorney, as a result the bank overdraft of the Department has significantly increased. The bank overdraft is however not expected to negatively impact on the ability of the Department to carry out its planned operations.
With regards to unauthorised expenditure, there was no unauthorised expenditure incurred in the current financial year. This has been the case in the prior years.
Fruitless expenditure amounted to R49 million, an increase from R3 million in the previous year. 97% of the fruitless and wasteful expenditure relates to the DoJ in the current year. It is primarily related to curator fees paid by the asset forfeiture unit of the NPA which could have been avoided.
Irregular expenditure increased from R47 million to R156 million in the current year. 84% of the irregular expenditure relates to DoJ in the current financial year. It is mainly related to the contravention of the SCM legislation in the procurement of security services. 13% of the irregular expenditure relates to the PP in the current financial year. It is mainly related to the contravention of the SCM legislation.
11% (R16,6 million) of the irregular expenditure was payments for expenses in previous years only uncovered and disclosed for the first time in the current financial year. 89% (R139,8 million) includes payments made on contracts irregularly awarded in a previous year- if the non-compliance is not investigated and condoned, the payments on multi-year contracts continue to be viewed and disclosed as irregular expenditure.
With regards to fraud and consequence management: no auditees had material findings on non-compliance with legislation on consequence management. All the irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure reported for investigation were investigated.
Slow response to improving key controls and addressing risk areas in management was found to be the root cause in the DoJ, SAHRC and PP. Management (accounting officers and senior management) do not respond with the required urgency to the AGSA messages about addressing risk and improving internal controls.
The second root cause in the DoJ was found to be instability or vacancies in key positions. Management regress in filling key vacant posts, instability in the leadership of the SCM and asset management have significantly contributed to the deterioration of the affected control environments.
With regards to commitments that the AGSA had received, the Third-Party Funds IT systems has been replaced which has resulted in improved financial reporting including the preparation of credible financial statements.
The update of the Guardian’s Fund IT system is in progress to ensure effective management of beneficiary funds. Senior management level vacancies at the Department for supply chain management are in process of being filled.
The PP needs to put processes in place to ensure that there is an adequate review of the financial statements and annual performances report that is supported by evidence that is valid, accurate and complete before submission for audit.
Compliance with legislation should be reinforced and improvements must be implemented on quarterly performance reporting and in-year financial reporting.
Mr Swart expressed that there was a very significant step taken in the audit report that he had waited 20 years for: the third-party fund is eventually unqualified.
The Public Protector and the Human Rights Commission are a matter of concern, but there seems to be a slight improvement on the side of the Department subject to the basis of the qualified opinion. There needs to be engagement on the three areas that caused the qualified opinion, namely the contingent liabilities, the leave entitlement for magistrates, and intangible assets.
The non-payment of legal fees to the State Attorney by other departments is also a matter of concern. The non-payments had gone up to about R1.6 billion. The main culprits appeared to be Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. This was a matter that needed to be raised because that was the cause of the high overdraft for the Department. It needs to be looked into in order to ensure that even at a political level the money is paid.
With regards to the R48 million given to the curator, what was the actual value of the assets? How was the payment allowed?
The matter of the leave of magistrates needs to be raised with them. Why was the leave only incurred six months after the time?
Mr Horn asked whether a probability check of collecting the outstanding R1.5 billion has ever been done by the AGSA. He understood that departments report to Parliament that they spend almost all their budgets, which would be an indication of their inability to pay or not. If this was the case, it should then be a concern that DoJ has an overdraft on the basis of money owed to by departments with a very slim likelihood of payment.
Mr John Jeffery, Deputy Minister, DoJ, asked if the AGSA was suggesting that the State Attorney should put out each case to tender.
Responses by the Auditor General South Africa (AGSA)
Ms Fikile Mashao, Senior Manager, AGSA, commenced by commending the OCJ whose officials were present at the meeting for receiving a clean audit. The SIU had also received a clean audit as well. Legal Aid South Africa has also maintained a clean audit for the past five to six financial years. The Guardian’s Fund and the President’s Fund had also received clean audits.
There was a challenge with the Public Protector. The main issue in the entity was the historical funding. The current liabilities exceed the current assets. The payment of creditors within 30 days is also a challenge in the entity. The financial statements also have problem of material adjustments.
In order for the Public Protector to have an unqualified audit at this point, the audit the process needs to assist and work on the financials that support it as well as the information given to AGSA. There were challenges with incomplete information and unreliable information.
The AGSA meets with the Ministry and management to engage them on the audit outcomes. It has received some commitments from the Public Protector in terms of what needs to happen.
There was also a challenge of vacancies in important positions. The CEO and COO positions were a challenge for the Public Protector. The instability causes difficulties in tracking the action plans hence the material adjustments in the financial statement because record keeping becomes a challenge. There was no monitoring at the supply-chain functions.
The PP as subsequently appointed a CFO and CEO. The AGSA hopes to see improvement soon.
Mr Mohamed Alli stated that for the procurement from the State Attorney’s office, te AGSA found no irregular expenditure because it is allowing for management to go and interact with National Treasury.
There is a significant provision for not recovering the receivables at the State Attorney’s Office. The impact the overdraft has on the operations of the Department is limited because it does not necessarily account for that expenditure in its own set of financial statements.
With regards to the curator, the case started in 2001. At that point, the assets were probably less than the R48 million.
Mr Swart wanted to know whether there are provisions for contingent liabilities when the AGSA audits provincial governments. He thought that these should be in the provincial budgets as provisions for the legal costs.
Mr Mohamed Alli stated that he would follow up on Mr Swart’s question.
Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson read out an apology from the Minister who was out of the country on official duty. She stated that the Deputy Minister of Correctional Services would do an overview and the Committee would later receive a briefing from the Department of Correctional Service (DCS).
Remarks by Deputy Minister
Mr Thabang Makwetla, Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, thanked the Committee members and stated that it was a privilege to stand in for the Minister, who was out f the country on duty. He indicated that this would be the last appearance of the Department of Correctional Services in the life of the current administration and in the life of the current Parliament.
Deputy Minister Makwetla stated that he would be reporting on the progress of the DCS in the last 12 months, more specifically on the last four years of the medium-term strategic priorities.
During the year 2017/2018 the DCS recorded the highest percentage of targets achieved at 81%. This was an improvement of 17% from the previous year.
It was a matter of concern and disappointment on the Department’s part that it had again registered a qualified opinion with findings.
The National Development Plan (NDP) commits the government of South Africa to do everything possible to ensure that citizens are safe in the country. The DCS endeavours to ensure that remand detainees attend court and are held in a safe and secure environment. Sentenced offenders are provided with healthcare needs and effective rehabilitation programmes in line with their correctional sentence plans. The DCS ensures that parolees and probationers are successfully re-integrated in society as rehabilitated law-abiding citizens.
The DCS is continuing with the migration from incarceration to a fully fledged rehabilitation service as an integral part of an integrated criminal justice system. In this regard, the DCS had paid attention to policy and government systems, not only to deliver greater efficiency but to ensure that in substance these reflect the commitment of the DCS to the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders.
With regards to administration, the DCS has sought to maintain stability by amongst other things, the filling of strategic vacancies to realise the objective of reintegration and rehabilitation. The DCS has minimised vacancies at the regional level over the current year. There has been an improvement at the head office in the filling of vacancies in the leadership of the different divisions. In this regard, the Department successfully placed 86 518 (82%) of sentenced offenders on various correctional programs in 2017/2018.
The Department recorded a good performance on probationer and parolee compliance with placement conditions. Off the 54 000 parolees, 53 615 (99%) parolees complied with their conditions. 15 914 probationers (99%) out of 16 131 also complied with their conditions.
Post prison life continues to be a challenge for many inmates. They idle at home with no prospects for employment. However, initiatives for self-employment by these ex-offenders are supported by the Department.
During the first week of October, the DCS in partnership with the National Library of South Africa hosted the Funda Mzantsi Championship in George, Western Cape. This is an initiative to promote literacy, reading and comprehension among offenders in the facilities of the DCS.
Many inmates are being equipped with agricultural skills and other artisan skills. Many more have been involved in various training and educational programmes as well. In 2017/2018 over 10 000 inmates have accessed adult education and training. The DCS Care Programme which comprises of health care, nutrition and hygiene continues to make a positive impact with respect to reducing the burden of disease.
The detection of diseases such as HIV infection and tuberculosis accompanied by adequate treatment and the introduction of harm reduction continues to make an impact. It contributes significantly to the health of the communities from which these offenders come from and the communities they return to after their release.
The number of inmates initiated on anti-retroviral treatment during the current financial year increased by 1 936 from 34516 in 2016/2017. With the implementation of the universal test and treat programme for all HIV positive inmates, the Department is confident that there will be a positive health care outcome overall.
A cure rate of 87% offenders has been achieved against a set target of 86% in the current financial year. This was a slight improvement when compared to 83% in the previous year. The achievement can be attributed to the collaboration between the DCS and support partners as well as the Department of Health.
Overcrowding continues to be a huge challenge. Many of the DCS centres are understaffed with aging infrastructure. As part of addressing the challenges, the Department is implementing a multi-programme strategy to reduce population levels of remand detainees. The Department is also promoting consideration of sentence offenders for parole or correctional supervision.
The Department is also accelerating its infrastructure projects which will increase bed spaces. The Tzaneen new centre is an example of this work.
The Department remains dedicated to dealing with challenges in the overall department including challenges with supply chain management.
Deputy Minister Makwethla thanked the committee members for their support and guidance throughout the financial year. He stated that the annual report tabled before the Committee reflects hard work that the officials in the DCS throughout the country were putting to realise the goals of the Department’s policy perspective. The Ministry would like to sincerely thank its officers for their determined efforts and implore them to work harder.
He thanked the Chairperson and asked to invite the National Commissioner to take the Committee through the annual report of the Department of Correctional Services.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister and welcomed the National Commissioner noting that this would be his first appearance before the Portfolio Committee.
Briefing by National Commissioner
Mr Arthur Fraser, National Commissioner, DCS, commenced the briefing by stating that the DCS would be delivering its annual performance report which depicts the Department’s endeavour to improve service delivery mandate which is pertinent to contributing to the success of the current medium-term strategic framework.
South Africa was in a transitional process of going beyond the incarceration of inmates to emphasising rehabilitation. This forms part of the NDP priorities which focuses specifically on health, rural development, education and social cohesion.
The achievement in education and training are testament to this. The senior certificate exams and that of education and training will be written at DCS centres starting from 15 October 2018 to 28 November 2018.
In cooperation with the Departments of Basic Education and Higher Education and Training, the DCS has memorandums of agreements that afford training and development opportunities for educators across the nation. DCS values these partnerships without which the achievements it has garnered in the past few years would not have been possible.
Minister Masutha had opened a school in Boksburg on 21 September 2018 and officiated at the graduation ceremony of offenders who qualified in different skills sectors. One female offender received a Master’s degree in tax law. Offenders can also register for technical and vocational training programmes as an alternative to obtaining an academic qualification.
Offenders who complete adult education and training level four who want to pursue a programme in engineering studies can enrol at correctional centres registered as examination centres with the Department of Higher Education and Training Institutes.
Those who complete grade 12 and want to pursue qualifications in business related skills can enrol at correctional centres registered as examination centres. These programmes are available up to N6 level. Up to 3000 students will be sitting for engineering and business-related examination.
The Department was equally indebted to its partners with special to SASSETA, MerSETA and service SETA for the continued assistance in training and developing offenders in a variety of market related skills.
The Department was especially proud of opportunities created on its farms through training on plant production techniques.
In further ensuring self sufficiency for the Department, the DCS has eight bakeries where offenders have been trained to work adding to the reduction in cost for the Department while at the same time skilling offenders for a life after their sentence.
While the Department has recorded an increase in the testing and treating of HIV and TB, the pending withdrawal of the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the global fund financial assistance represents a material risk to this process. Mitigation factors are being explored to maintain the success the Department has thus far.
The Department is also working closely with the Department of Public Works to ensure that scheduled projects are delivered at a faster pace in scope and on time.
From an administrative perspective, the Department has put measures in place to strengthen internal controls and improve findings rising from internal and external audits.
The Department is committed to speeding up the implementation of its core mandate. It acknowledges the need to have a government collaborative initiative in achieving its mandate of a better life for all.
The National Commissioner thanked the Portfolio Committee and asked the DCS to present the annual report.
Briefing on Department of Correctional Services 2017/2018 Annual Performance Report
Mr Joseph Katenga, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Strategic Management, DCS, stated that the performance level for the Department was at 81%.
Most of the rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes have been achieved. There was one area in these programmes where challenges were experienced but they are being addressed.
One of the programmes that the Department did not perform well was Programme 1: Administration.
With regards to finance, the Department had intended to have no audit qualifications, but this did not occur.
Regarding Information technology, the percentage of Integrated Inmate Management System (IIMS) modules for core business processes completed, the Department had scheduled to complete 8 out of the 9 modules, but it only managed to complete 7 modules. This was due to the delays arising from having to do extend testing because of the complexities of the modules.
Under Programme 2: Incarceration, there were 27 deaths that the department did not have autopsies on, and this affected the final reporting numbers. Due to the delays by the contractors and complexities in terms of the Department’s capacity, the number of new bed spaces created by the upgrading of facilities that had been scheduled was unsuccessful.
In Programme 3: Rehabilitation, there was a discontinuation in one of the programs which resulted in a number of offenders who participate in Educational programs per the Daily Attendance Register per Academic Year (AET) to fall off.
In Programme 4: Care, the percentage of inmates on Anti-Retroviral therapy underperformed. This was due to some inmates who are diagnosed but refuse to commence treatment and those who are co-infected as the treatment cannot commence without treating the other disease first.
Under Programme 5: Social Re-integration, here has been challenges in getting the inmates to participate in the restorative justice programme.
The Department is on schedule on all three indicators: the percentage of sentenced offenders subjected to correctional programmes per year, percentage of parolees without violations per year and the percentage of probationers without violations per year.
Only two programmes were audited. These were programme 2 (Incarceration) and programme 5 (Social Reintegration). The Department was not qualified in respect of programme 5. However, the audit opinion was qualified in respect of programme 2. This was due to the percentage of overcrowding in the correctional centres. The Department found that in order to accurately measure bed space, it needs to correlate the G309 (original data entry form) to the actual bed space determination system.
With regards to management, the planned target on the percentage of officials charged and found guilty of corrupt activities was 95%. The Department finalised and closed 102 out of 106 cases (96%). The percentage of integrated communication and marketing strategy (ICMS) implemented was 100%.
With regards to the Human Resources, the target percentage of funded posts filled for the financial year was 90% and the Department managed to fill 95% of these posts. The target number of officials trained in line with the workplace skills plan (WSP) was 21 000 and the Department managed to achieve 32 388. The target percentage of management areas where the IEHW programme is called out was 100% and the Department managed to achieve 117%.
In terms of finance, the target percentage of allocated budget spent per year was 99.75% and the actual achievement was 99.62% (R22,727 bbillion / R22, 814 billion) resulting in 0.38% (R87 million/R22,814 billion) under spending. On Compensation of Employees, Persal reported a funded permanent establishment comprising 41 994 posts, of which 39 276 are funded filled posts, 232 posts are filled additional to the funded establishment, mostly on entry level, resulting in a total persal head count of 39 508, but leaving 2 718 vacant funded posts (6.00%). There was also one audit qualification relating to contractual commitments wherein the Department did not comply with contractual commitments.
Pertaining to information technology, the planned target in percentage of Integrated /Inmate Management System (IIMS) modules for core business processes completed was 89% (8/9) while the actual achievement was 78% (7/9). The planned target of percentage of correctional facilities and community corrections offices where LAN is rolled out was 13.89% (50/360) of LAN infrastructure to be rolled out. The actual achievement was exactly 13.89%.
With regards to JICS, the actual percentage achieved of Correctional facilities and PPP facilities inspected in relation to conditions and treatment of inmates was 34.2% as opposed to the planned target of 33.3%.
Under security operations, the percentage of inmates who escaped from correctional centres and remand detention facilities per year was 50% as opposed to a planned target of 56%. The percentage of inmates injured as a result of reported assaults in correctional centres and remand detention facilities per year was 4.6% as opposed to the planned target of 4.7%. The percentage of unnatural deaths in correctional centres and remand detention facilities per year was 0.037% (61/164 129) as opposed to the planned target of 0.032% (52/ 163 261).
In terms of facilities, the planned target of the number of new bed spaces created by the upgrading of facilities annually was 492 additional bed spaces consisting of Estcourt 309 and Standerton Phase III 183. The number of bed spaces actually created was 0.
With regards to Offender Management, the percentage of overcrowding in correctional centres and remand detention facilities in excess of approved capacity was 38%. The percentage of offender's profiles submitted by the Case Management Committees (CMCs) that were considered by CSPBs was 95%.
On community integration, the number of victims who participated in restorative justice processes was 13679 which was higher than the planned target of 6250. The number of offenders/ parolees and probationers who participated in restorative justice processes was 5 268 which was lower than the target of 6250.
Mr Mandla Mkabela, COO, DCS, reminded the Committee that the Department started the year with a R234 million cut in budget which had a ripple effect on the number of funded posts in the Department. The adjusted budget was R 22 814 593 billion. The expenditure amounted to R22 788 578 (99.89%) of the appropriated budget.
The year-to-date expenditure of the Department as at 31 March 2018 after final audit was R22,789 billion (99.89%) against the final appropriation of R22,815 billion resulting in R26,015 million underspending
A virement of R83 million from Machinery and Equipment to Goods and Services was approved by National Treasury to cover for the shortfall under Nutritional Services under the Care Programme. This virement has been effected in the relevant programmes’ adjusted budget,
In the year under review, the realised surplus, after adjustments have been effected, were utilised to write off long outstanding earmarked debts and losses amounting R57,270 million which were functionally approved in principle by delegated authorities in prior years
In 2017/18, the Department received a qualified audit opinion on commitments. The basis of the qualified audit opinion was that the contract register was not accurate and complete. Some adjustments made to disclosed commitments as per the annual financial statements could not be subjected to the audit as AGSA had cut off execution of audit.
The Auditor-General also put an emphasis of matters on the following:
Contingent Liabilities – Uncertainty with regard to the ultimate outcome of various law suits against DCS as a defendant as no provision in the annual financial statements for any liability has been made
Accruals and Payables which exceed 30 days – The Accruals and Payables exceeding 30 days were R281,629 million an amount which exceeds the R26,015 million voted surplus funds to be surrendered to National Revenue Fund. Had the Department paid these accruals and payables as required by Treasury Regulations 8.2.3, the department would have incurred an unauthorised expenditure amounting to R255,614 million
Restatement of corresponding figures – the 2016/17 financial year comparative figures for the annual financial statements were materially restated mainly under Assets (R1,550 billion mainly due to disclosure of immovable assets and capital work-in-progress) and Liabilities (R3,488 billion mainly due to removal of disclosure of operating lease commitments for buildings)
The Department is in the process of drafting an action plan to address the all AGSA audit findings which should be finalised by 30 September 2018
Mr Mpumlwana acknowledged that there were many positive things in the annual report that he appreciated. He was concerned tough about the unnatural deaths.
He asked what the DCS was doing with the lack of bed spaces. Why could the DCS not put mattresses in the meantime at least to mitigate overcrowding?
Mr Mpulwana stated that the Department was supposed to be the richest department. It should not have any problems in terms of finances because it is effective. It produces the best furniture, fresh organic vegetables, and quite a number of good things. Why does it not negotiate with the Treasury such that at least it is able to sell these things to the public? This will mitigate the question of budget cuts.
He was not sure if the law needed to be changed such that the victims are paid by the work of offenders. 'You killed my father and I am struggling' basis. This would be better justice. Perhaps, it is worth considering.
He asked whether the other departments were buying from the Department or if they were buying from the private sector. Is it possible for DCS to negotiate with other departments? Maybe the DCS could make uniform for various departments like the police and so on.
Mr Mpulwana asked which departments are affected by lack of funds regarding human resources. He was worried about the possible litigation against the Department on certain issues. He wanted to find out which divisions the Department thought it definitely needed people on. For example, on incarceration the DCS stated that it needed quite a number of people and it could not compromise this.
Mr Mulaudzi stated that his first three questions would be on the audit report from the AGSA. He asked the Deputy Minister about the finding of no improvement and slight improvements. What was the role of the Minister and is there any action plan to remedy the situation in the Department?
Secondly, with regard to the R1,8 billion in fruitless irregular expenditure, is there any action plan or consequence management? What would happen to the officers implicated in the fruitless irregular expenditure? Maybe the National Commissioner could tell the Committee if there are any turnaround measures that it is taking with regards to the fruitless and irregular expenditure.
The Auditor-General found there were no follow ups to the supply chain matters where 12 employees failed to disclose and other supply chain allegations. Why had the Department not investigated the allegations even though the findings were raised by the Auditor-General?
There were also about 10 employees who failed to disclose their interest in the suppliers. Who are the 10 employees? What is being done with the 10 employees? This might be setting a precedent that it was fine not to disclose their interests within the Department and there would be no consequences.
On the Department’s annual report presentation, he stated that in terms of the indicators not achieved in 2017/2018, he would prefer actual figures and percentages in order to assess the real under achievement.
What was the reason for not using the whole budget allocated? Underspending could not be a norm when there is a lot that still needs to be done It makes it hard for the Committee to speak on behalf of departments to the Treasury when there is a pattern of underspending.
The DCS had mentioned that it was drafting an action plan to address the Auditor-General's findings and the plan would be completed on 30 September. The Committee wanted to know about the status of the action plan and if it had been completed.
On human resources, he noted that the achievement was above the Department's target. This meant that this was the only target that the Department required in terms of HR. On a surprise visit to Sun City, he found that the ratio of officer to inmates was 1 officer is responsible for 7 inmates. This shows that there is a lack of human resources. The Committee will try to negotiate with Treasury to get more budget for DCS so that more wardens could be employed. Wardens have to transport inmates to court and to hospital. The Department could not mark green on the report as if everything was well when there is a huge lack of human resources.
Mr Maila expressed appreciation for the report from the National Commissioner and the Department of Correctional Service. It was encouraging to see that the Department is serious about consequence management. He asked if the Department had cases with officers, especially senior officials, who are suspended for a long time with pay.
He was concerned with a statement in the Department's report which stated that it had planned for deaths and escapes because this implied that the Department plans and targets for the unfortunate events.
An engagement with the Auditor-General, the DCS did have credible audit action plans but those plans were not adequately implemented despite the fact that on quarterly basis the Department meets with the Auditor-General and it indicates to the Department that it had identified certain gaps. The Department is now qualified because it did not implement the plans that it had in place. What did this tell the Committee going forward? If this continues, there will be no progress.
Mr Skosana welcomed the presentations and congratulated the Department on its progress. He asked why only two programmes had been audited. Looking at the Incarceration programme, what challenges existed there?
With respect to facilities and the number of bed spaces created by the upgrading of facilities annually, additional beds created amounted to zero as opposed to the target of 492 beds. This is an area that the Committee had previously raised serious concerns and it was expecting the most improvement in. Even given the challenges that the department faced, he thought it could have done better.
The report stated that the realised surplus after adjustments was utilised to write off long outstanding debt and losses amounting to R57 270 million. He thought this was a good move as it is not ideal to run a department with debts.
Mr Selfe stated that his first question concerned unnatural deaths in incarceration. The report states that this would be measured annually and exclude deaths due to unknown causes. He did not know why one would want to exclude deaths that were due to unknown causes as this may lead to an undercount. Deaths due to unknown courses are still unnatural deaths.
Secondly, the inspectorate estimates 1200 mentally-ill inmates are in prisons. In his view mentally-ill people do not belong in prisons as they get abused by hardened criminals who are very violent. They are very vulnerable. He asked whether the Department had any plans to address this particular problem either by creating social facilities, some sort of interaction with other government departments or by simply refusing to admit people who are mentally ill.
On the building programme, the Committee had heard that the two facilities that are due to be completed would come in screen in February 2019. He was concerned that there was a history in the Department to delay construction due to poor contractors.
He sought clarity on whether the Incarceration Programme, which had a budget of R13 949 901 billion, had actually spent the budget to the last cent. The report indicates that there was 0% underspending and overspending on the programme and he thought that it was impossible that every last cent of that budget was spent on the programme.
More generally, he commented that the performance indicators as a whole are useful. However, one reads about parolees and probationers and the fact that there was a very small number of contractions there. He thought that the real indicator of the Department as a whole would be the number of offenders who re-offend because if they re-offend then social rehabilitation, social reintegration and education did not work. As a proxy, it sums up all the other indicators well. He had been asking for many years for this to happen and people always point out problems as to why this is not possible. However, if this proxy was used it would be easy to get to the heart of whether we are achieving the mandate.
He expressed that there was a culture of impunity that exists throughout the Department because of the lack of consequence management. One sees this throughout the annual report. The ignoring of statutory provisions to report to JICS, the lack of accountability, the failure of members of the senior management to sign performance agreements, failure to achieve targets, refusal to declare interest, the failure to act against officials who incur or allow irregular expenditure and so on. There was a culture of impunity in the Department and the few individuals who had been convicted are a drop in the ocean. The real problem is at the centre level where people know that they can pitch up for work or not pitch up. They can basically do whatever they want, and there won't be any consequences. Until that core of the problem can be tackled, the Department will not be able to turn itself around.
Ms G Breytenbach (DA) aligned herself with the question raised about mentally-ill prisoners.
The report indicates that Department spent 100% of the allocated fund but only achieved 30% of the targets. How did this happen?
With regards to bed spaces the target was to create 492 bed spaces, but no bed spaces were created. What are the reasons for this as 100% of the allocation was spent but no bed spaces were created. How did this happen?
How many bed spaces would be delivered by Standerton and Escourt in December 2018 and February 2019 respectively? Matatiele, Tzaneen and Vanrhynsdorp prisons are not mentioned at all in the report. What percentage of the bed spaces belong there?
The DCS disciplinary matters had increased significantly with 1700 people receiving written warnings. What kind of offence warrants a written warning? What kind of offences warrant a final warning as there were 608 of these? 60 written warnings were withdrawn.
What happens to officers when they refuse to sign performance agreements?
The Department has 992 employees who are repeatedly absent from work without a valid reason. There 538 for dereliction of duty and 532 for breaching security measures. This was a security environment. As a Department as tasked with dealing with people who must be removed from society, what is it doing with these statistics?
Mr Horn spoke on the matter of additional beds and working capital noting that the Auditor-General was of the opinion that the Committee did not fulfil its oversight duty in this regard.
The astounding figure is that from the 2013/2014 financial year up to the 2017/2018 financial year only 282 additional bed spaces were created through the programme. This was achieved in 2014/2015 when 282 out of a target of 1081 bed spaces were created. All the other years ended with 0 bed spaces created and all of them coincidentally had a target of more or less 450.
From the report it was visible that in that time overcrowding increased from 29% to 38%. There is a clear correlation.
Whilst the AGSA might be satisfied with the usefulness of targets, he thought that some of the targets should be questioned. For example, the Department had made a target he thought it had incorrectly named 'reducing overcrowding'. DCS has set itself a target of not having overcrowding more than 38% but the reality is that year on year the number of persons dying of overcrowding in the APP has increased. Last year it increased from 35% to 38%, yet it is called a reduction in overcrowding.
The Committee should be addressed on the implications of the Saldanha judgement where in principle the Western Cape High Court said that Correctional Facilities are operated in an unconstitutional and inhumane manner at the moment where overcrowding reached 120% of the capacity.
In prior years, there has been a reported underspending in terms of the capital works program which would then explain why no bed spaces were created. In the current year there is 100% expenditure. How is that to be explained if 0 beds paces were created and part of that budget was for 492 planned bed spaces. If DCS was serious in addressing the failure with regards to capital works it should not have negotiated with National Treasury to remove the audit targets in respect of working capital. This is because the audit targets at least gave the AGSA some form of oversight in respect of capital works.
In respect of rehabilitation, R19 million may not seem like a huge underspending the question must be asked as to how this can happen in a county with such high levels of unemployment. There is a younger generation of people who are qualified but who cannot find jobs and yet DCS simply went about its business without employing at least 60 to 70 entry level officials to deal with the core component of rehabilitation.
In respect of the Auditor-General's findings on unrecognised commitments and the Department's response on its report, there needs to be further unpacking in the sense that the Department states that it has no regional capacity to hold proper records of its commitments on a 5-year basis and rely on its SCM staff members to do that. That explanation will not assist the DCS in the year to come to turn around the qualified audit on that basis. The Committee needs to be informed as to what measures the Department will be putting in place to address the findings.
Mr Van Rooyen welcomed the presentations and improved performance that had been realised.
In the presentation there was a post audit implementation plan that was supposed to have been concluded around the end of September 2018. He asked that the Committee gets further details on the progress of the plan. He was emphasising this because the interest of the Committee should go beyond gaps that have been identified but tackle the plans of the Department to address the gaps identified.
He was concerned about the financial management of the Department. If one looks at the analysis of the Auditor-General on the internal control deficits, it was clear that the Department was not doing well on financial management. Was there an immediate plan as to how it plans to address the issues of financial management?
On the composition of the audit committee, the report states that attendance was only recorded for 3 members. He asked if this was the full number of the audit committee. Was the committee correctly constituted with 3 members?
Lastly, he requested that the Committee be furnished with the analysis of the non-payment within 30 days. Why were creditors and service providers not being paid within the 30 days?
Mr Swart stated that the Committee needed to appreciate that Department's work with the limited budget. He wanted to commend the Department on its historical justice under programme 5- the social reintegration programme which had a planned target of 6250 but it actually achieved 13679 which was from the victim's side. This was very positive. However, on the offender's side there has been a slight decrease. He encouraged the Department to keep going and he was pleased that it had advertised 18 social auxiliary workers posts.
There was a matter raised by the Auditor-General on contingent liabilities resulting in a qualified audit related to legal cases against the Department and the uncertainty of the ultimate outcome of those court cases. According to the report, there is no provision for any liabilities that may be made in that regard. How would DCS address that contingent liability?
There was also the matter of court fees that owe state departments in the Justice budget where the State Attorney and the Department of Justice acts on the department's behalf and incur advocate's fee disbursement. How does the DCS make provisions to pay for those if it's not budgeted for? This is a generic problem where the R1. 6 billion owed to the Department of Justice across departments.
He asked for clarity on the irregular spending on the contract of R1.7 billion committed by the Independent Development Trust. Was this in the one year? According to the Auditor-General R1.67 billion was for payment expenses in the previous year. Would part of the R1.7 billion be ongoing every year?
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister, the National Commissioner and the Department for the presentation.
On a positive note, she commended the 77% pass rate and the four schools which obtained a 100% pass rate. She asked if the model could not be replicated in other Correctional centres to ensure the sustainability of the pass rates.
The Chairperson had a very serious concern about the vacancy rate especially when it came to critical occupations like health professionals. The vacancy rate was very high. The vacancy rate of medical practitioners was 44%, it was 21.2% for psychologists and 8% or vocational counsellors.
When the CDC was presenting, he stated that the Department was targeting a 5% vacancy rate which is normally below the norm for the public service. However, these rates were exceedingly high.
She pointed out what seemed to be a contradiction between the JICS and CDC report. The JICS presentations stated that JICS had made 81 visits whereas the CDC states 83 as an actual achievement in terms of JICS visits.
The report also states that there are 99 officials that are suspended without pay. Are there any officials who are suspended with pay?
The report also speaks about foreign workers. What kind of work are they doing?
The Chairperson expressed that she was generally happy with the improvements as indicated by the Auditor-General in terms of the financials in the Department.
Mr Katenga responded to concerns about the Department planning for people to die and escape. It was not that the Department was planning for people to die, it is based on the fact that there are over 160 000 people in the Department's care and such incidents are bound to happen.
The nutrition target is for the Department to manage chronic disease. Normally if you have a certain disease that means that you need a certain diet. The Department tries to assist those inmates with such a diet until they return to normal diet and normal lifestyle. The budget is 15% and the Department achieved a percentage that is below the budget hence the success seems to be in an opposite direction.
As the Department improved in the quality of information it provided, the AGSA decided to reduce the audit sample and focus on the key areas of the security issues, facilities and so forth. It is as a result of improved presentation of information by the Department.
It is only one programme -which is related to bed spaces - that resulted in a qualified audit. It is as dire as it sounds.
For the purpose of reporting in the annual report, the DCS would be reporting as of 31 March based on all the deaths that have been certified as unnatural deaths at that point. On an operational basis, all deaths are recorded on a monthly basis. The only reason the DCS changed the category was that if DCS reported deaths as unnatural but received the death certificate at a later stage then it would have to go back and reverse the numbers and report based on autopsies.
Based on the planning for the next five years, the DCS is considering introducing an indicator relating re-offending.
In response to Ms Breytenbach, the indicator on care did not only achieve 33%. Two out of the three Care-indicators have been achieved which would result in a 66% success rate.
In terms of additional bed spaces, the DCS is looking at 492 with 309 created at Estcourt and 183 at Standerton phase 3. The total spaces available at the facilities after the process would be 500 at Estcourt and 787 at Standerton.
Mr Mkabela stated that the main contributing factor to the underspending was the contribution on employee compensation budget by R163 million but there remained pressures on goods and services (food and food items -ration for inmates) where the Department also overspent by R97 million. The net is then an underspending of R26 million.
The DCS does have a turnaround action plan. The date was scheduled for 30 September when the Department should have the plan. It was approved by the National Management Committee on the 3 and 4 October 2018. The Department always has a turnaround strategy on an annual basis and implements it.
In terms of Section 43 of the PFMA, the accounting officer may do virements between two main divisions. For example, Programme Care is under a lot of strain because of food such that there were shifts which were made from Programme Incarceration to Programme care. Incarceration underspent by R37 million from its original budget, but the Department did a virement to other programmes which were over spending. The details are on page 121 of the annual report.
In response to the question about unrecognised commitments, with the continued cuts in the compensation of employees (R176 million in the year under review), the Department prioritises the core which is also under strain. This means that the support (finance, human resources or supply chain) also suffers. There are a number of posts that have been abolished due to this. The result is the unstable audit outcomes observed. At the same time the requirements in terms of the accounting standards are increasing. The Department has a roll out plan to train non-financial personnel on an ongoing basis on modified case standards in order for the department to comply.
The analysis of payments in the 30-day period states that in the year under review 5.28% of payments were made outside of the 30-day period. In relation to DCS, it is the fourth quarter and there is R231 million which is above the 30 days. 95% of this amount was a payment which was due to DPW. The payment was held back because the Department wanted DPW to give it the break-down of the planned maintenance that it would do on behalf of DCS to assess the value for money on the accommodation charges. The balance of the charges is on state payments which are due to state hospitals for offenders taken in, injuries on duty for officials and the National Health Laboratory.
Three years ago, the department was qualified on contingent liabilities; it has since held a credible and reliable contingent liability register. The Auditor-General only raised emphasis to indicate that in the books the Department does not make a provision but only discloses in the annexures the exposure of the Department and if there is a significant outflow of the budget.
The DCS falls within the Justice family. It is one of the departments that do not have long outstanding amounts with the State Attorney. The DCS only owes the DoJ R25 million.
In relation to the legal services, the DCS budgets for legal services appropriately. Where there is a payable in terms of a court order, it comes out of that budget as well.
The R1.7 billion in irregular expenditure was a contract that was awarded by the IDT in 2012. It was audited last year and was under investigation. The contract has since ended. It was audited because there was a flow of expenditure in the year under review. The contract is also under investigation by the SIU.
The audit committee is the outgoing committee at the moment and it only had three members. The positions have been advertised so that a committee of 5 can be constituted.
With regards to consequence management, the Department is taking action in terms of non-compliance or deviance by officials. DCS would come back and report on these matters. If there were other questions, the Department could respond to them in writing.
Deputy Minister Mr Makwetla thanked the Committee for its time. To a very large extent the comments made by the committee members were a fair discerning of the challenges the Department has. There will always strong and weak points in each organisation. When evaluating the Department members should have this in mind. In the global scale, South Africa’s correctional service is not the worst. There are many good practises even though there may be some embarrassing moments.
He expressed that the reality that the Department has been without permanent appointees at a leadership level especially the National Commissioner’s office. He emphasised that one cannot expect much in terms of consequence management in terms of people who are acting because the confidence of the authority with which they act is not the one that would be enjoyed if the person was a permanent appointee. For half of the current year, they were rotating Acting National Commissioners. This does affect the extent to which malpractices get dealt with firmly. The situation is expected to improve now that there is a fully appointed National Commissioner.
The concern about bed spaces is a fair one. Over the past 5 years the Department has been faced with the challenge of very poor delivery of bed spaces and the slowness of the delivery of infrastructure.
He assured the Committee that the Tzaneen and Estcourt project would be delivered within the stated time frames.
The Department has raised possibilities of coming up with a model of infrastructure delivery that will alleviate all of these problems. It is something that the Ministry would like to see whether it will negotiate successfully with Public Works.
Overall, there are areas where there has been improvement.
Briefing by the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS)
Inspecting Judge Justice Johann Van Der Westhuizen, JICS, stated that the Inspectorate focuses on themes. These include: overcrowding, violence and torture, the state of facilities, women in prisons, mentally ill inmates and other themes it is still working on.
The Inspecting Judge stated that the condition of facilities vary from place to place. With the limited resources, JICS has been able to visit each of the 243 centres every three years. The CEO together with other departments of the JICS is revamping the system. JICS hopes that in the next year or so it will be able to visit many more and reach all centres every second year. JICS encourages judges and magistrates to visit the centres.
JICS is currently looking into the situation of mentally ill inmates as it has come to the attention of the Inspecting Judge recently. There are broadly two categories of mentally ill inmates. One category is state patients- this category is not even supposed to be in correctional facilities but in hospitals but there is a shortage of beds and so they end in correctional institutions with ordinary inmates. The other category is people the authorities regard as unstable based on their conduct and assessment by their medical staff.
The Inspecting Judge stated that he recently visited East London where there was a cell with around 44 people. Half of those inmates were mentally-ill patients who were in the same cell as normal inmates. A few months ago, a murder took place in that cell. In that same cell an inmate would start screaming in the middle of the night and call in emergency services and he would say in the court yard right outside the building they are busy digging his grave. He would show the officers where they are digging the grave but there would be no grave. The situation was so bad that officers take sick leave when it is their turn to look after that category of inmates.
The starting point is that there are people in these centres who are not supposed to be there. JICS has made a lot of progress. One improvement was the appointment of a new CEO. Other significant appointments include the Communications officer, the Deputy Director of Finance and the regional manager for the new Eastern Cape Management Area (ECMR).
As far as growth is concerned, JICS is in the process of moving the head office from Cape Town to Tshwane where there have been huge problems in finding accommodation. At the moment the JICS is lawfully occupying two floors in the Justice Ministry’s building. The office that JICS has in Cape Town will become the Western Cape regional office and JICS will move out of the present accommodation as soon as the lease expires because it is too luxurious and expensive.
The George office or former Southern Management Area (SMR) is being moved to East London and making it ECMR.
The JICS system of ICCV is being reengineered to be part of the civil service and JICS structure.
With regards to independence, the Act declares JICS as an independent office under the control of the Inspecting Judge. The independence of JICS is always upfront. The JICS would not be prescribed to by anybody what to say in interviews. JICS does check with the facilities when it writes reports because it does not want to make mistakes regarding the facts of the reports.
In his time as an Inspecting Judge, there has been no interference from the Ministry. The JICS has been encouraged to be stronger and have a higher profile.
On an operational level with regards to finance especially, it was difficult for the JICS. The JICS is financially located within the Department of Correctional Services and it has had battles around its budget. The battles do not only relate to the total amount but also which items it is allocated to.
The JICS has had situations where it is decided unilaterally for it where the cuts in budget should occur.
There is litigation pending. The NGO, Sonke Gender Justice, that took the government to court a few years ago about the overcrowding in Pollsmor prison and won, is still busy with a follow up and has instigated legal action. There is a court date set for November. One of the results is that JICS, DCS, Treasury and DPSA have been working on a government component for JICS which would mean JICS would be housed closer to the Ministry and not within DCS. This would mean that JICS had greater freedom within the budget. It could also be crippling in the sense that if JICS gets too little money, it would have nobody to ask from. This matter is called the business case in the report of JICS.
According to the Correctional Services Act, there is mandatory reporting. Regardless of the inspections, in the case of death and any unrelated incidence involving the use of force even segregation it has to be reported to JICS by the Department. This used to be done through a management information system which is not functioning and has not been functioning. JICS has asked the Department on many occasions to do manual reporting and the results have been disappointing. JICS also raised the matter with the new National Commissioner and he had sent a circular to encourage the reporting. However, from what the Inspecting Judge had seen, the results have been very disappointing so far. This is quite a serious matter.
With regards to overcrowding, this was at the core of every problem. JICS had and been advised that solving this challenge was however outside its mandate. He thought that JICS could receive an oversight and understanding of all the initiatives that are taking place in the different provinces and try to coordinate these to make a proper focused study of these issues.
Mr Vickash Misser, CEO, JICS, stated that overall the Inspectorate has 86 approved positions.
With regards to inspections in the current year, JICS has conducted 123 inspections of the 243 centres. Furthermore, the inspections process is being re-engineered to ensure quality standards in terms of the reporting. Inspections are now categorised into three areas. The first category is whether that centre is good, the second category is whether that centre is satisfactory, and the third category is unsatisfactory.
During 81 inspections, 1200 inmates were identified as having some form of mental illness. 29 of these inmates were declared state patients. The JICS was currently investigating a case at Grootvlei maximum of a sexual assault on a state declared patient who was assaulted while held in the health section of the correctional service. This was worrying. In another instant, a suicide of a mentally ill patient was reported in Vereeniging Centre where the patient had his hands tied to the back.
Out of the inspections conducted, JICS has conducted 22 investigations which focused on the use of force, assault of officials on inmates and sexual assault. JICS also deals with complaints that come from both internal and external sources. There were 988 complaints that were registered from inmates. The prevalent assaults were assaults of an official on an inmate (231), transfers (165), Parole (92) and inmate on inmate assaults (70).
There were 82 unnatural deaths registered on JICS system in the 2017/2018 period. These deaths were classified as suicide, inmate on inmate and unnatural other. The unnatural other would now be classified as attempted suicide.
There were 9 947 cases of segregation and 41 of these cases were abuse that was subjected to review.
There were 994 instances were use of force was used.
There are 310 ICCV positions in strategic positions. They are there on a daily basis and report on all areas of the activities of the DCS. They give JICS reports on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
74 positions have currently been filled in the current year and they would assume duty on the 1st of November.
With regards to employment and vacancies, there are 68 occupied offices, 10 vacancies and 9 people on contract. The vacancy rate is 3.4%. Two director posts had closed the previous week and JICS was busy with the selection process.
With regards to the budget and expenditure, JICS has utilised and spent 73.8% of the R69 640 million budget.
Mr Swart asked a question about the segregation. If he understood the report correctly in light of all the investigations, there were findings that the DCS did not follow protocol in segregating the inmates. Should the Committee not conclude that there is a more systematic or endemic problem regarding the protocol followed when segregating inmates? He expressed that it could not be a coincidence that all appeals subsided.
Mr Horn asked why there was a significant under-expenditure in the JICS budget. He warned that going forward, JICS might lose future budget.
He was concerned that in the report it was stated that the JICS inspector was denied access to one of the inspection visits. He asked if this had been remedied.
He had visited St Albans prison. Inmates were just allowed to go out and eat and go back inside. There were serious concerns about assaults on the Wardens. What was the current state at St Alban's prison? Had the situation improved?
With regards to overcrowding, there is a provision to apply for a reduction of bail. To what extent was the provision being utilised? It is costing the government R300 plus a day whereas bail is minimal. These provisions can be used to reduce the awaiting trial prisoners many of whom could be innocent.
There was a note in the report that the Inspecting Judge was denied access by the health services. He asked for more details on the note. Was this because of the pending Sonke Gender Pollsmor case? The report mentions that the matter was resolved but the Committee would need to be concerned if the Judge was not given the due information required or denied access to exercise his duties.
Mr Skosana stated that the under expenditure was too much. What was the reason for the under expenditure?
With regards to the classification of deaths, the category 'other' which the CEO referred to as attempted suicide appeared to be higher in all the provinces. He wanted clarity on what was meant by attempted suicide. What was the difference between suicide and attempted suicide as the person is dead either way?
Where there any disciplinary cases related to staff members? If there are, what was the nature of the cases?
Mr Mpumlwana asked why the mentally-ill inmates were still at correctional centres and not at health institutions. He asked who was going to take them out as this has been the case for a while. He asked what JICS does when it sees these things happening? Does it just report, or does it have powers to act?
Secondly, do judges and magistrates do inspection visit? If they do what do they do there?
He agreed with the proposal that maybe a separate law should be established for JICS as this would ensure complete independence.
Ms Breytenbach recalled that a while ago the Committee had gone on an oversight visit to the St Albans prison. The place was a complete abomination, a gross violation of human rights. People could not be left under those conditions nor could they be rehabilitated under such conditions. She was even surprised that people survived in such conditions. She asked what the Committee could do to assist in addressing this.
The Chairperson had two comments. The first one was the matter of the budget. It appeared that the JICS was concerned about the Department’s unilateral decision on the Inspectorate’s budget. She asked for clarity on the matter.
There was a notable decrease in consultant fees from R29000 to R13000, which was commendable. On the matter of leases, it is stated that JICS was not paying any leases, except in Northern management area. Is this the one the judge referred to in Centurion?
Response by the JICS
Inspecting Judge Van Der Westhuizen stated that the judgement in the Sonke Justice Gender case has been widely welcomed. However, the ripple effect is that prisoners are simply transferred to other prisons. This is with the additional complication that people are transferred far away from home and from family. The lawyers appearing for Sonke recently called him to check if JICS would be willing to be part of a court order to check how it is. JICS would be part of the court order.
He emphasised that it was important for every government department going to court to prepare properly and bring the full picture to the court. He cannot know what is happening in other prisons in the country and the lawyers representing Sonke will not bring it to his attention and it is the duty of the departments participating in the court to bring the full picture to the sitting judge.
The matter of state patients being put in prison is very serious.
With respect to the question of denial to access, JICS inspectors were denied access at Matatiele. The question was directed to a senior official in DCS who stated that they are not allowed to deny JICS access and referred them to the Regional Commissioner. As far as he knew, the commissioner was the one who had denied the inspectors in the first place. However, this was just one incident.
Judges the magistrates' write reports and they send them to JICS, but they are also supposed to send them to the Portfolio Committee, the Commissioner and to whoever else needs to receive them.
JICS has embarked on an initiative to meet the judges in the different provinces to speak to them because we cannot expect them to go and do inspections for two days; however their presence does matter.
With regards to facilities there is a shortage of uniform and a shortage of shoes.
Almost every meeting on overcrowding people always say but there's someone who is not here such as the National Prosecuting Authority or the Legal Aid Board or the Police. One needs a completely coordinated effort involving all role players which starts really with whether the police should allow someone on bail or lock him up. The vast majority of overcrowding is on the people awaiting trial.
The next step after the magistrate has granted bail, can the people afford bail? Another matter is that some families do not want pay bail because they do not want the people back in their environment.
The Inspecting Judge stated that he was in favour of alternative sentencing. He had recently spoken to the Judicial Education College that perhaps there should be training done with Magistrates and Judges on sentencing. The principle of equality before the law is very important. The process however, would need to be thought through as the courts cannot send a person today for 10 years to jail and wake up saying something different to the next person.
Mr Lennard de Souza, Manager Inspections, & investigations, JICS, addressed the question on segregation. 31 of the 41 decisions JICS made was in favour of the Department of Correctional Services, where the segregations were justified.
In case of Pollsmor health services the nurses initially did not want to give out the prisoner's health records because they were of the opinion that it would breach the doctor and patient confidentiality. But the matter was later resolved.
JICS does agree that the condition at St Alban's prison is disturbing. It is a DPW matter. DPW either needs to replace the centre or rebuild it. As reported before it was one of the big issues that is linked to the facility issue.
With regards to the classification of unnatural other deaths, these are when there is an unexplained death in the centre. An inmate would be walking in the passage and then they would collapse and die, or they would be found dead in their beds in the morning. Those deaths would then be reported as unnatural other because the centre is not certain at the time what caused the death. A post-mortem would need to be done in order to determine the cause of the death.
Mr Misser stated that the reason for the under expenditure of 24.6% was that the budget was not monitored. From the assumption of his duties on 1 September, JICS put in a monthly monitoring reporting tool to manage the budget expenditure. JICS had already submitted quarterly reports. JICS was now accounting on a quarterly basis and the spending was looking much better.
Also, the vacancy rates were very high (at around 16%) when he joined the office so all that salary money was not being used.
Mr Mpulwana asked what happens when JICS finds these problems. What steps does it follow to ensure that the problems are resolved?
Mr Van Rooyen thought there was an indication about a facility that that needed to be rebuilt or demolished. He was not sure about the protocol of engagement with the relevant department with Public Works. He asked whether the protocol was to bring this pressing matter to their attention. It would be in the interest of the Committee to get that report and maybe engage with the relevant parties.
Mr Misser stated that with regards to the facilities, JICS was not sure what was happening. This is why he had stated that the report by JICS would pose questions and expect DCS and Public Works to answer. If those answers are not satisfactory, JICS may go to the power that the act gives it and maybe have hearings with witnesses to get answers from cross examinations. JICS would like to know what is going on between DCS and Public Works and other parties.
Mr De Souza expressed that in most of the centres especially in the Free State, JICS receives positive feedback from Correctional Services. It heavily depends on the management of that area whether JICS gets its feedback or not.
Deputy Minister Makwetla stated there was nothing that the Ministry would add to the very vibrant presentation. The Annual Report showed that there is movement that speaks to growth within JICS. In particular one welcomes the growth in the footprint of JICS to spread across the six regions of the departments.
With respect to Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West, JICS could not service the 3 provinces as one from an office in Pretoria, the way the department does. This is because with JICS there has to be physical access to the centres. In that respect that still has to be physical infrastructure growth in JICS.
He was also happy that there was more structured and focused inspectoral work done systematically. This was the right way to go. Tension will always be there. It is part of the process on the part of the oversight work. It is only healthy that it should be there. The Ministry was happy with the progress of JICS
The Chairperson thanked everyone.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Correctional Services & JICS 2017/18 Annual Reports, with AGSA input and Deputy Ministers present 2
- Department of Correctional Services & JICS 2017/18 Annual Reports, with AGSA input and Deputy Ministers present 3
- Department of Correctional Services & JICS 2017/18 Annual Reports, with AGSA input and Deputy Ministers present 1
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