In this virtual meeting, the Committee discussed the progress on executive undertakings made by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. Due to a scheduled cabinet meeting, the Ministers were absent but their deputies were in attendance.
The undertaking by the COGTA focused on the development of a Smart Cities Framework (SCF). Members were informed that the vision is for the role of national government to enable, guide, support, coordinate, and accelerate smart city initiatives. COGTA committed to the following deliverables in the short-term: Develop and draft SCF by mid-November 2020; Undertake consultations until December 2020; Revise draft SCF during January 2021; and Finalise SCF before April 2021. The SCF must be inclusive and: For all society; Use ICT as an enabler; Informed by local conditions; Coproduced by the community; and Embrace partnerships and innovation.
The ensuing discussion between Members and the COGTA included: Establishment of new cities in foreign jurisdictions to be used for comparative analysis; Monitoring and oversight function of the Committee; Process planning; Elaborate, broad, and intense engagements which include all of the relevant stakeholders required to make an impact on the SCF process; Slow-paced implementation of the SCF; Smart Cities’ contribution to the economic and social development of the country; SCF project budgetary allocation; Information Communication Technology maintenance budget allocation; Provinces earmarked for SCF development; Development of systems to deal with the capacity of expected influx/migration into urban spaces; SCF under the new economic plan; Fifth industrial revolution; Involvement of the officials meant to champion Smart Cities process; and Availability of water and environmental issues in the new city. The Committee would interact with the COGTA to see how far they were in terms of finalising the framework and timeframe to start implementation.
The Department of Justice and Correctional Services (DoJ&CS) separated its presentation into those undertakings under the Department of Justice (DOJ) and those under the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). The DOJ presented three undertakings relating to the: Upgrading of information technology (IT) infrastructure as a priority area of the Integrated Justice System (IJS) programme; Resolutions and challenges of budgetary constraints of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA); and Amendments of legislation in terms of court orders. The DCS presented one undertaking in relation to the skills programmes at correctional services centres. The DCS’ presentation highlighted the: Vision of Skills Development; Applicable legal mandates; Skills Development delivery areas; Scope of skills development offered to offenders; and Implementation plan.
The ensuing discussion between Members and the DOJ&CS included: IJS programme, its slow progress and contributing factors; Piloting IJS; Coordination between the eight member partners involved in the IJS; IJS budget; Strengthening and support of the NPA; NPA budgetary constraints – closing specialised units and an inability to maintain their skills base; Importance of ICT systems in courts; Audio video remand (AVR) in the court system; Challenges faced by the Polokwane High Court; Lack of prosecutorial human resources and capacity; Filling of prosecutorial vacancies; Preventing the impression that it is better to live in prison because there are good resources, medical care and training; Eligibility of the non-offending unemployed and disadvantaged for benefits offered to offenders; Not advantaging offenders at the expense of ordinary people; Number of inmates who were successfully rehabilitated and placed in vocational training; Overcrowding of in certain correctional centres; Employability of skilled ex-offenders; Oversight function of the Committee; Presence of a Study Commission.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting and read through the agenda. She received an apology from Mr S Mfayela (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal). She further noted that it was a Cabinet day, which was possibly the reason why deputy ministers were present and not ministers. Were there any apologies from the deputy ministers?
Mr John Jeffery, Deputy Minister, Department of Justice and constitutional Development, apologised on behalf of Mr Ronald Lamola, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, and assumingly all other ministers. He confirmed that it was Cabinet day, which was why he had been asked to respond to the undertakings made by the Minister. He suggested that in future there be an attempt to find a suitable time as ministers had to attend Cabinet days which sat on a Wednesday.
The Chairperson said that it was unfortunate for the Committee that the day set aside in terms of their programming was a Wednesday morning. There was no way of changing the day. She suggested that the Committee negotiate times with the ministers. When the ministers received correspondence from the Committee, it would be appreciated it if the ministers could indicate their availability and which times. This was so that the Committee could juggle around their time on a Wednesday.
Presentation on Executive undertakings made by the Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (during the Budget Vote Session of the NCOP on 16 July 2020)
Mr Parks Tau, Deputy Minister, COGTA, introduced the presentation, indicating that the focus of the undertaking was with regards to the development of a smart City Framework (SCF) as per the medium-term strategic framework (MTSF).
Mr Seana Nkhahle, Executive Director, SALGA, explained that during the State of the Nation Address in 2019 and 2020 the President began the discussion around Smart Cities within the South African context. The President’s statement indicated that technology will be the foundation of the future South Africa. A Smart City is a city wherein investments in human and social capital, and traditional and modern communication infrastructure, fuel sustainable economic development and high quality of life, with prudent management of natural resources. Smart Cities have to become centres of innovation and creativity and must respond to everyday challenges – embracing any intervention to redress these challenges. Smart Cities are transformational in nature and aimed at achieving an enhanced quality of life for citizens and deliver tangible benefits at all spheres of government while leveraging resources. The advancement of technology is rendering the present model of services provision obsolete.
The SCF is required to guide the adoption and implementation of Smart City strategies by municipalities. The SCF must define core values, principles and priorities that will underpin Smart Cities vision in relation to state, society, environment and economy. It will address critical urban management issues. The SCF will be aimed at galvanising the country towards a single common and unified vision. The SCF will be informed by the realities in municipalities, availability of resources and commitment by other organs of state to provide necessary resources. Numerous stakeholders are conducting work around Smart Cities in a fragmented and silo manner, which results in duplicated efforts and the inefficient use of resources. There must be effective coordination and streamlining to successfully roll out the framework and ensure that there are complementary strategies implemented at local level.
A Smart City Framework for South Africa
The vision is for the role of national government to enable, guide, support, coordinate, and accelerate smart city initiatives. The role is encapsulated as: Develop Smart Cities guidance and policy; Establish and Support Partnerships; Facilitate Information Sharing; Support Research and Development; and Monitor Implementation.
The Department is developing SCF in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). It is foreseen that the SCF would: Motivate municipalities to embrace Smart City initiatives; Ensure a clear and consistent approach to Smart Cities is adopted; Provide a set of principles to guide decision-making; Advise on quality assurance and risk management practices; Establish accountabilities and delegated authorities for individuals and grounds; and Identify actions and interventions likely to lead to the desired result.
Threats to the SCF success include: Inappropriate or misinformed interventions; Vested corporate interests; Technology should not be seen as the starting point but as an enabler; Poor understanding of the complexities of a city; and Ethical privacy issues.
Undertakings towards the finalisation of SCF
COGTA committed to the following deliverables in the short-term: Develop and draft SCF by mid-November 2020; Undertake consultations until December 2020; Revise draft SCF during January 2021; and Finalise SCF before April 2021. The SCF must be inclusive and: For all society; Use ICT as an enabler; Informed by local conditions; Coproduced by the community; and Embrace partnerships and innovation.
It is recommended that the Committee takes note of the contents of the presentation.
Mr C Dodovu (ANC, North West) welcomed the input made in terms of the intentions of the COGTA in respect of the SCF. The Committee had seized the opportunity presented by the President on the SCF and, in April, were planning to visit Brazil, China, and Ghana in respect of learning more on the process of establishing new cities in the current century. This was quite important because Members needed to know how cities were established and how countries went about establishing them. He explained that this was so that, when the process presented by the COGTA is started, Members are in full swing and understand what is expected of them, and the Committee impacts positively in the process of monitoring COGTA and playing their oversight function. The Committee had already been doing this but were inconvenienced by the Covid-19 pandemic and could not visit the particular countries. He thought that this process was important and thanked the Chairperson for bringing it forward as it showed how Members worked together as a committee to ensure that they complemented their work.
He said that the framework presented by COGTA was a process plan which provided a way in which the cities were going to be developed. This was a big project that had to be undertaken meticulously and it was an opportunity that presented itself to COGTA. Looking at the country as a whole, it was known that South Africa had so many imbalances and inequalities in many respects. This was an opportunity to balance the country and it was important that the engagements anticipated by COGTA must be elaborate, broad, intense, and include all of the relevant stakeholders required to make an impact on the process. His concern was that things were very slow. The President had announced the idea of Smart Cities on 19 June 2019 and it was now November 2020. To develop the framework during the pandemic was an opportunity to develop the way in which the SCF would be unfolded and undertaken. What was the COGTA’s response when he said that they were a bit slow and needed to expedite the process? The SCF had positive spinoffs for the country in terms of determining how to develop the country and what was needed to do so. He thought that Smart Cities would have an immense contribution in the economic and social development of the country.
The Chairperson was in agreement with Mr Dodovu. By now the Committee was expecting to see how far COGTA was in terms of implementation rather than still receiving the framework. How much has been set aside for this particular project in COGTA’s adjustment budget? Could the Committee see that COGTA had interacted with Treasury and what had been set aside for the project of Smart Cities? The SCF was meant to address the influx migration of job seekers from rural areas into urban areas. In addition to KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and the Western Cape, are there any other provinces that have been earmarked for this kind of development? The Committee was eager to know, in terms of the COGTA’s planning, that it had identified specific provinces other than those that she had indicated. Has COGTA developed systems to deal with capacity of the possible population increase and taken this into consideration? She had heard COGTA talking a lot about the ICT which was meant to be key for the Smart Cities. Has COGTA set aside a budget for ICT maintenance such as ICT infrastructure and technology? If yes, how much has been set aside for this?
Mr E Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) said that everybody was a victim of the Covid-19 pandemic that they had come from and were still in. When the issue of the Smart City was raised it was before the pandemic, and the President has now given a new economic revival plan. Was COGTA covered in the new economic plan announced by the President in terms of focusing on the Smart Cities? The pandemic also provided the opportunity to ensure that whatever was done from now, started from the fifth industrial revolution going forward and he hoped that the new Smart Cities would be covering these elements. The issues of networks, parking etc. was to be an issue of the past. He asked this so that there was not an issue of a Smart City sitting in one corner and the bigger plan of developing the country sitting in another.
Mr Dodovu added that when the President mooted the idea of Smart Cities for the first time, he mentioned various people that would be the champions to drive it. To what extent are they involved in the process? In terms of a way of doing a basic rudimentary analysis of how to establish a new city, one of the greatest conditions was that it must be a city where there is water. Without the availability of water as a resource the process would go nowhere because everything that one did required water. Where the city was to be located should thus be where water availability was okay. Issues of the environment etc. were also to be taken care of. Was COGTA anticipating involving organisations or departments to bring them on board in order to give their own views? For example, Mr Mthethwa raised that the cities which were established in the past did not take care of certain elements such as traffic congestion. One of the good elements of establishing a new city was to make sure that paper was limited so that it became a paperless high-tech city, while also reducing transportation as a way of establishing the city. Other mechanisms could also be used, such as reducing or limiting the number of cars and using other modes of transport to the particular cities. How would COGTA engage other players and contributors in making the SCF?
Deputy Minister Tau made an observation that COGTA needed to resolve the problem of nomenclature. There was a problem where there were two initiatives currently underway in government dealing with Smart Cities and it was called the same thing – which sometimes tended to cause a bit of confusion. The first initiative related to the initiative to develop a new city that is underpinned by, amongst others, smart technologies, and which has been defined as a Smart City. Sites had been identified but this was not a project that COGTA was currently talking about. There thus needed to be a differentiation between the new city project as a separate project that has been undertaken from the current initiative being the SCF. The SCF was intended to be a framework for all cities, whether new or old, to convert and adapt to smart technologies that will enable them to grow and optimise opportunities for local economies, municipal efficiency, governance, and accessibility to digital access for communities in cities across the country. The framework that was being developed and the process that was presented was on the latter: it had to do with an overall framework that would guide all cities to be able to implement Smart City initiative. This could range from digital or network infrastructure related to Smart Cities, broadband telecoms, and other technologies that could be applicable to the municipal environment. It was important to try and separate the two but he accepted that part of the problem came from government to the extent that sometimes when they spoke they did not always find a way of differentiating between the two.
In terms of whether COGTA had been slow in the development of the framework, post the adoption of the MTSF COGTA included the SCF in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the current financial year. The President had announced Smart Cities in the previous year, but the inclusion of the APP was in the current financial year. COGTA’s intention was to conclude the SCF within the current financial year so that implementation could be enabled. He explained that he was differentiating between the point of announcement and the point at which the implementation of the process of developing the SCF was started. Internally in government there had been extensive consultation. He had no doubt that this consultation needed to be extended to other stakeholders but the idea was for there to be a draft framework as the basis on which to engage other stakeholders in the process of finalising the SCF for the country. This also dealt with the point of how the COGTA differentiated between the framework and implementation as he had clarified what the framework was intended to do. It was not intended that COGTA would be responsible for all aspects of implementation, so they would not develop extensive skills and capabilities in areas that were best done by those colleagues responsible for digital technology and communication. From this point of view, these colleagues were seen as critical partners. To the extent that broadband, application of technologies, and specific disciplines in the development of the framework and its implementation were needed, capacity would need to be sourced from those who were best placed and who have developed the necessary capabilities in government.
Deputy Minister Tau confirmed that in the development of the SCF itself, the CSIR was seen as a critical technical partner in the process. Colleagues in digital and communication technology have also been very close to the process of the development of the framework. An implementation plan would be defined out of the framework, which would be resourced by the appropriate agencies and municipalities to the extent that implementation was needed. If gaps are identified, COGTA would then need to present to government what alternative means of financing some of the issues could be obtained to stimulate the development of Smart Cities throughout the country. The intention was beyond the pilot sites earmarked to ensure that there are Smart Cities in all of the provinces of the country. It was thus the intention that all provinces would be covered. In terms of whether Smart Cities and issues of digital infrastructure would constitute part of the economic recovery plan, he confirmed that they would. Resources had not been directly allocated to COGTA for the implementation. However, it was intended that those departments responsible for and which have the capacity and skills to do so would have the resources allocated to them for purposes of implementation. There were elements of the economic recovery plan that COGTA was responsible for. These elements were led by the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent.
Mr Nkhahle responded to the issues of budget. As explained in the presentation, at this stage the DCOGTA was looking at the framework and envisaging to finalise it before April. The next phase would be implementation, where he thought that the issues of the budget and implementation would then be covered.
The Chairperson asked if it was possible for the Committee to get the draft framework that Mr Tau had referred to.
Mr Tau said that it was currently in draft form. He asked if COGTA could interact with the Committee at the point at which they would be able to present something.
The Chairperson confirmed that the Committee would wait for COGTA’s response so that they would be able to follow up on matters contained in the framework. She thanked COGTA for updating the Committee in terms of the Smart City implementation programme. She was sure that the Committee would, from time to time, interact with COGTA to see how far they were in terms of finalising the framework and timeframe for starting the implementation. COGTA was excused.
Presentation on Executive undertakings made by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services (during the Question and Answer Session of the NCOP on 27 August 2019)
Progress on Undertakings made at the NCOP plenary on 27 August 2019
Deputy Minister Jeffery introduced the three undertakings relating to the DOJ.
Mr Nicholas Munyai, Responsible: Integrated Justice System, DOJ&CD, and Mr Baatile Mathibe presented on the upgrading of information technology (IT) infrastructure as a priority area of the Integrated Justice system (IJS) programme. Deputy Minister Jeffery presented the: Resolutions and challenges of budgetary constraints of the NPA; and Amendments of legislation in terms of court orders (independence of the NPA).
Upgrading of IT infrastructure as a priority area of the IJS programme
As per ICT infrastructure as a priority in case integration projects, the IJS programme continued with various projects to upgrade IT infrastructure to modernise the Criminal Justice System (CJS) through the electronic exchange of CJS information between the South African Police Services (SAPS), National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD). Ensuring modernisation included: Equipping 4 850 NPA prosecutors with laptops to enable improved access to the integrated systems; and Provision of NPA ICT infrastructure support and maintenance through the delivery of essential ICT capacity to support the critical area of prosecution services, and as a prerequisite to system utilisation and adoption within the CJS.
As per the electronic case integrations for improved child justice, all government departments involved need to operate cohesively. Child justice integrations were developed by the IJS and Department of Social Development (DSD), that completed the enhancement of the DSD Mobile Probation Case Management. This enabled the recent electronic integration with SAPS. 1 000 probation case managers were being connected through the procurement of 1 000 tablets. The use of low-cost mobile devices has proven successful in this environment, and a further rollout of an additional 2 000 tablets is planned to support social workers.
In terms of the modernisation of court processes, the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) court online project was critical. On 18 July 2019, a key modernization milestone was reached through the undertaking of the first fully paperless case trial simulation. In January 2020, the pilot was operationalized at both Johannesburg and Pretoria High Courts, which highlighted the need to upgrade network infrastructure for expansion of the solution to additional high courts. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the solution benefits were proven, and accelerating deployment of necessary infrastructure is a priority for the 2020/21 financial year.
In terms of the integrated person management (IPM) across the CJS, during 2019/20 the IJS worked with Department of Home Affairs (DHA) for the upgrade of the legacy Home Affairs National Information System (HANIS) application. The ability to uniquely identify a person within the CJS is essential and made possible by a IJS unique person identifier (UPID). Enabling this UPID requires the upgrade of the HANIS.
The Covid-19 pandemic impacted traditional models of service delivery and necessitated the need and created an opportunity for digital platforms and channels to be implemented at an accelerated pace. Priority Covid-19 projects for delivery in the 2020/21 financial year include: Court Audio-Visual Solution (CAVS) Project – Accelerating delivery of CAVS for virtual trials, remands and interpreting deployed to nine Regional Courts, whilst the current AVR solution footprint is expanded to 18 additional sites; Integrated Bail Payment Processing Project – Significantly modernising the bail payment processes to enable payment of bail from anywhere by means of electronic channels and payment at banks.
Budgetary Prioritisation for the NPA
During August 2019, the Minister indicated that there was ongoing discussion between the DOJ and National Treasury which aimed to resolve challenges of budgetary constraints of the NPA. When the discussions are concluded through budgetary processes, informed communication will be made thereon. Covid-19 has caused economic stress and challenges. The DOJ is committed to support the NPA’s budgetary and resource requirements, to ensure that the law takes its course and that justice is both done and seen to be done.
Additional funding of R106.8 million was allocated to the NPA during the 2019 Adjusted Estimates of National Expenditure (AENE) and R1 247 billion over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period during the 2020 MTEF process. Based on the additional funding, the NPA started its journey to rebuild the organisation by filling vacancies, revitalising the prosecutors’ training programme and providing needed ITC equipment to prosecutors. However, new budget baseline reductions amounting to R1 046 billion were introduced and implemented by National Treasury during the 2021 MTEF process leaving the NPA in the same financial crisis as before. While the NPA can absorb the proposed budget baseline reduction in respect of the current 2020/21 financial year and the 2021/22 financial year, it will severely impact on the NPA’s ability to deliver on its mandate.
As the NPA has already exhausted all initiatives to curb expenditure and save costs, no additional measures can be implemented. Consideration will have to be given to closing down specialized units and the prosecution of cases will be severely impacted causing delays. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an economic crisis which has been compounded by corruption during Covid-19 procurement. Prosecution of these matters must ensue and the benefits derived must be returned to state coffers. The lack of funding will cripple the NPA’s ability to address corruption and recovery of assets.
The Director-General of National Treasury was formally urged on 18 September 2020, to not consider any additional budget baseline reductions and to reconsider the current position relating to the outer years. The National Treasury responded on 22 September 2020, that the concerns raised by the NPA have been noted and that it will be processed as part of the MTEF planning process currently underway.
Amendments of legislation in terms of court orders: independence of the NPA
In October 2019, the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament in terms of an amendment ordered by the court. This amendment dealt with Section 12 of the NPA Act regarding the term of office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions and Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions. It also addresses the extension of office of these office bearers. The Bill has been approved by Parliament and was sent for assent on 3 September 2020.
Response on Executive Undertakings made by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services during the NCOP Plenary on 27 August 2020
Mr Pathekile Holomisa, Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, presented the response to the undertakings on behalf of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).
The DCS Skills Development vision is to provide market related skills that will equip the offenders with Occupational Skills and Vocational Education and Training to facilitate their rehabilitation and enable their social reintegration; and Contribute to Government Outcome in contributing to a skilled and capable workforce. The Correctional Services Act No. 111 of 1998 compels the DCS to provide access to as full a range of programmes and activities, including needs-based programmes, as is practicable to meet the educational and training needs of sentenced offenders. The DCS must also provide other development and support programmes which meet specific needs of sentenced offenders and that are responsive to the special needs of women.
The scope of skills development interventions offered to offenders include: accredited training; formal and informal training; workplace learning at DCS offender workplaces; and Vocational Education. Offenders must meet the minimum entry requirements of Grade 9/ NQF Level 1 to be admitted in skills development programmes. Production workshops continue to provide work opportunities to offenders with the objective of skills utilisation and development in order to enhance offenders’ employability and self-sustainability upon their release. Mindful of the scarcity of jobs for law abiding citizens, the DCS is also providing skills to offenders to become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses or provide employment to other parolees.
Ideally the DCS would like every inmate to be skilled and better off than before incarceration. However, remand detainees cannot be involved due to the risk involved and uncertainty of the length of their incarceration. Accredited formal skills training requires a minimum number of notional hours and the cost can be as much as R16 000 per person. Offenders with short sentences cannot therefore be included as it must be certain that they will complete the requirements. Maximum offenders are also excluded due to the risk they pose and security classification. The number of offenders allowed in facilities is limited due to capacity reasons coupled with social distancing requirements.
Critical strategic elements required to achieve ideal offender skills development are: accreditation of offender training facilities and workplaces; alignment of Vocational Education curriculums with local workspace; maintenance of proper quality and information management systems and processes; ensuring proper implementation of skills development policies and procedures; alignment of organisational structure, recruitment and filling vacant posts at all training sites; optimisation of skills development training facilities and resourcing of training facilities; enhanced partnerships with stakeholders; continuous motivation for the increase of voted funds in order to train more offenders.
The DCS signed an implementation protocol agreement with the National Skills Fund. Currently, R52 million has been allocated for the training of 5 400 offenders from the 2018/19 until 2021/22 financial years. The DCS collaborates with various stakeholders to fund training of offenders. During the first year of implementation 1 719 offenders were trained on various skills programmes. Education and Training Authority (SITA) funded the training of 276 offenders and Manufacturing, Engineering and Related SITA funded the training of 157 offenders. A total of 9 364 offenders participated in TVET college programmes and 14 717 skills training programmes for the 2019/20 financial year. DCS has increased offender participation from 17 534 in 2018/19 to 24 081 in the 2019/20 financial year because of partnerships with external partners. DCS is faced with an ever decreasing budget and will not be able to involve all 150 000 inmates in skills training. However, inmates were also involved in other programmes and services.
The Chairperson indicated that the Committee was very unhappy with the DOJ&CS. This was the first time that the Committee had received a presentation in the morning of the meeting – past 08h00 to be exact. She did not know what went wrong as correspondence had been delivered on 23 October 2020. The DOJ&CS was expected to respect the Committee and give them time to read the presentation so that they would be able to interact with it. She started on this bad note so that it did not repeat itself.
Deputy Minister Jeffery apologised and said that the DOJ&CS would make sure that it did not happen again. He thought that there were some problems from the Parliamentary Liaison Officer relating to being able to get the document through on email.
The Chairperson asked Members to ask questions that were relevant to the undertakings that were made by both ministers.
Ms S Shaikh (ANC, Limpopo) said that her first question related to the IJS as it had been a project that was ongoing for quite some time. In terms of the presentation, quite a lot of progress was seen in a number of areas. One thing that Covid-19 had shown was the importance of ICT systems and the DOJ&CS had indicated that they had also taken in the opportunity. There were eight connected partners involved in terms of the IJS and it had been indicated that there was slow progress on it. Some of the challenges related to the coordination between the partners as well as the issue of budget. Could the DOJ&CS give the Committee an indication in terms of whether the situation has actually improved in terms of both the coordination of partners and issue of budgets? She imagined that this would include the budgets across all eight partners. She thought that the Committee should be concerned with the budgetary constraints that the NPA was faced with. While she understood that it was indicated that the concerns would only be addressed in the MTEF budget, she thought that it should be raised as a concern. If the NPA got to the point of closing down specialised units and being unable to maintain their skills base, the NPA would be in crisis.
Mr Dodovu thought that the presentation was informative in respect of justice and correctional services and he appreciated how the DOJ&CS presented themselves to the Committee as it showed that it was time to prepare submissions. On the issue related to the IJS, this sounded like an old record to him. For as long as he could remember, the need and importance of an IJS was spoken of to help address the issues of crime and corruption in the country. It seemed as though the DOJ&CS was moving at a snail’s pace which was worrisome. Why did the DOJ&CS not pilot it in one province or district, put all of their resources there, coordinate it, and check whether it worked and what lessons could be learned? One of the issues raised was that of AVR in the court system. He knew of many cases where possible offenders were acquitted on a basis of a lack of audio visuals or the audio visual was not properly registered and recorded or were not clear enough. He was happy that the DOJ&CS was taking the issue seriously but it was a matter that needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
In the previous year the Committee visited the Polokwane High Court. He heard that there was a need to pay attention to ensure that IT in courts are maximised but what was seen in the Polokwane High Court left much to be desired. The Committee was not happy about the report that they had received in terms of the Polokwane High Court building which was not that old but was dilapidating and deteriorating because of poor workmanship, and their IT system was also problematic. If a new court like the Polokwane or Limpopo High Court found itself in this situation, it was problematic. He asked that the DOJ&CS look at these matters and taken seriously so that they are seen to be spending the money of the State correctly. On the NPA, ways in which to support the NPA needed to be found, their work needed to be strengthened, and the NPA needed to be prioritised in terms of budget. Clearly, what the NPA was doing and was supposed to do was to ensure that they prioritised their work in terms of prosecution – especially in the wake of crime and corruption ravaging the country.
One of the biggest problems about a year ago related to vacancies, especially in the prosecutorial area. Have the vacancies managed to be filled up? What was the update? Competent prosecutors were required to do the work. When he engaged the NPA about their work in the North West, especially with regard to corruption in municipalities, he was told that for the whole province there were only two prosecutors and that their work was stretched out. In some instances, these prosecutors ended up giving people bail or releasing people on the provisional withdrawal of charges because the State was not ready to prosecute people and lacked the necessary human resources and capacity. The DOJ&CS could not say that they wanted to deal with corruption if they did not strengthen this area of work. This needed to be attended to. He was from a province that was under Section 100 of the Constitution and under administration. This was bad as the government had to be collapsed. He would not be happy when the basis of the government’s collapse was corruption, and the people were told that there were about 50 cases in the hands of the NPA but that the NPA was too constrained to prosecute those involved because of budget and other related matters. This would not help the province in being stable.
Regarding what Deputy Minister Holomisa had said, he felt as though he was presenting about something else and not the offenders. As a matter of policy and fact, it had to be understood that it was offenders that were being skilled – these were people who had offended and committed crimes in society. The impression should not be made that to live in a prison in South Africa, when arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced, was better because there are good resources, medical care and training of the magnitude presented. His view was thus that the impression should not be created that it is better to live in prison rather than outside thereof. Those people who are unemployed and disadvantaged should also be eligible and be in the position to get the benefits that offenders who had committed crimes were getting. He clarified that he was not saying that the DOJ&CS’ should not have these benefits but it had to be borne in mind that whatever was done did not advantage offenders at the expense of ordinary people. He could not talk with authority on this subject but a model needed to be found that would make society feel that whatever correction was done with offenders did not advantage them and provide them with all of the benefits. The offenders were sentenced because they had offended society. He did not have a clear cut solution but he urged the DOJ&CS to look at this.
Mr K Motsamai (EFF, Gauteng) made an input that was not translated [1:36:00 – 1:38:40 parts not translated]. When someone was sent to prison, one wanted that person to be changed when leaving prison. His concern was Boksburg, Johannesburg, Leeuwkop, Zonderwater, and Pietermaritzburg Correctional Services. If one went to Boksburg Prison, one would find that it is overcrowded with more than 19 000 inmates.
The Chairperson asked the DOJ whether it could take the Committee through the factors contributing to the slow pace of the implementation of the IJS programme. The issue of closing the specialised units of the NPA was worrisome. If the specialised units are closed, what would then happen within the DOJ? Would it not contribute negatively to the DOJ? It had also been mentioned that sometimes the NPA was unable to pay staff. What are the mitigating factors of this? If the staff is not paid this could become a problem as there could be a strike etc. She commended the DCS for the good work that it was doing. She knew that it may sound as though they were doing too much for those that had offended the community but it did not make them less entitled to rights as South African citizens. The DCS’ work was thus good and it was good that in their presentation they were able to touch on some provinces that were doing work. She wished that the DCS could give the Committee the information that would help them in each province, in terms of what was happening. She clarified that she was not asking for this information right now but that at a later time the DCS was to submit such information to the Committee. This was so that when Members went back to their constituencies they were able to go to those correctional services and do their oversight work.
Mr Mthethwa told the DCS that he had heard all of their programmes which were very good programmes. Is there any study commission anywhere in Africa or Europe in terms of the programme that the DCS was engaging in? What are the advantages and disadvantages of it?
The Chairperson asked the DCS if they could provide the Committee with aggregated data on the number of inmates who had successfully exited the programme and had been placed in vocational training.
Mr Munyai responded to the IJS question in terms of whether there was a better coordination of the IJS programme and also in relation to the budget. IJS used to be under SAPS and in 2016 it was then moved to the DOJ, including its hub. Part of what was being done to improve coordination was through the governance process. The DOJ was currently reviewing the current governance model and coordination was quite problematic. What was being proposed in the new governance framework, which was taken into various Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster forums and which would be going to Cabinet for approval, was to ensure that outside of only having the IJS board (which was represented by the business owner and IT Head) there was also a structure called the IJS Implementation Committee. The structure would be that of directors-general, which would then have to sit quarterly. Currently there was little accountability imposed on the member departments. IJS is not a single system but are multiple systems which are then connected to the hub for purposes of information exchange.
The eight member departments had little accountability on IJS projects. The new framework would then enforce them to also include IJS related projects in their APPs by their directors-general, together with SITA which was also a major contributor to the slow pace of the IJS programme. The new governance framework was thus very critical. The IJS board would be the implementation committee because it had to implement and ensure that programmes moved with the necessary speed it deserved. There had to be an accounting forum, which was that of the directors-general, and it would be chaired by the Director-General of Justice and Constitutional Development. When time permitted in future, the DOJ would be able to take the Committee through the governance framework. 49 multi-departmental projects were being run and the eight departments that were there included the DHA, SAPS, DOJ, Legal Aid Board, Offices of the Chief Justice, NPA, DSD, and DCS. The budget was allocated according to the requirements generated in the member departments. Integrated planning sessions were being run, where the DOJ was able to go to each member department and look at what they would require for the modernisation and integration of the CJS. The new governance model sought to ensure that there was accountability, visibility and more monitoring of the programme going forward.
The other challenge that was faced was why the programme was moving very slowly related to the issues he had raised around governance. However, the DOJ was ensuring that this was addressed. There were two critical things that the DOJ did, one which related to case management. In terms of case management, if one looked across all member departments, there had been a lot done and there were systems that had been developed for this purpose. Where the DOJ was lacking was in the person management, which was very critical for the life of the IJS as it allowed a person to be tracked from their location and custody status through the entire CJS. What was happening now was that the project which had been delayed several times for more than eight years was the IPM and it had to do with SITA issues that also contributed to delays. This project had started and the DOJ would ensure that they worked directly with SAPS to ensure the delivery of the project. The achievement of IJS was mainly accrued to member departments, which was what the DOJ was changing by building a strong communication and chain management unit within the IJS.
Recently in Parliament a lot of good things had been said about the Legal Aid board but little was said about the ILA system which was an IJS project. Recently, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), which was under the DSD, approached the DOJ to leverage on the IJS Person Identification Verification Application (PIVA) services to combat fraud. He was happy to recall that during Covid-19 SASSA was using PIVA. The beneficiaries of social grants were then verified using biometric fingerprints against the Home Affairs national population register. IJS continued to support this integration with SASSA because it assisted a lot to combat fraud. It would have been seen that when things are reported, SASSA would say no they had that or this but no one said that it was the work of the IJS and that they used the IJS hub to ensure that they used PIVA services to combat fraud during the Covid-19 pandemic. The slow pace was caused by a multiplicity of things, one was especially in SAPS where there had been issues with SITA. The DOJ invited SITA to the IJS board as member departments were worried that projects were delaying precisely because of a lack of resources from SITA. A war room had been established with SITA to ensure that IJS related projects are fast tracked.
One the issue of why the DOJ was not piloting the project to districts and provinces, if one looked at the probation management the DSD worked differently. The provinces did not necessarily account to the national office but accounted to their respective Premiers. What was being done in the DSD mobile application for child support processes was that they were working directly with provinces. The DOJ would be able to provide the Committee with the list of provinces. The programme itself was national but the DOJ also went to provinces where there was a need to do so in ensuring delivery. AVR had been deployed to 47 sites so far and in the current financial year it would be extended to 18 sites. The DOJ wanted to deploy it to as many sites as possible. One of the critical things was that during Covid-19, different virtual platforms were being used: some would use Zoom, Webex, and Microsoft Teams etc. However, it had been seen that DOJ’s environment, especially the CJS, was very vulnerable to cyberattacks. There had been an undertaking by State security to do an assessment and verify all of the virtual platforms that are being used. The DOJ needed to use a secured and approved virtual platform by State security or else they would face a lot of hacking and cyber-attacks all of the time. He did not want to delve into what had transpired but he was sure that the Committee was aware of some instances.
On the issue of the slow paced implementation, it was safe to say that a lot of things would be seen moving once the governance framework was approved by Cabinet. He added that the issue of SITA might also require some other intervention. At the DOJ’s level they might not have done so but they continued to have engagements with them and established a war room to ensure delivery. The Integration Person Management (IPM) had started and was a key question. In the CJS the value chain started when the person was arrested. Therefore, SAPS and the IPM were the heartbeat of the IJS problem. This was why the DOJ was ensuring that the project moved with the necessary speed.
Mr Mathibe thought that over and above the formal governance structures that were being put in place at the implementation or service delivery point, the DOJ now had a single view of all projects because they were being run as a portfolio of projects and not individual projects. Due to the inter-relations and impact across the different projects and value chain it was seen that one delay could lead to a domino effect of delays. The DOJ was not only waiting for the formalisation of accountability but regarding the programme itself, it was changing its approach in terms of how it measured progress. As a result of Covid-19, the DOJ was cognisant of and looked at the capacity that was deployed in infrastructure, which impacted the quality of service. The DOJ had gone back and looked at an integrated view. Once the technology was deployed it had to run in an infrastructure capable to handle the capacity and quality of service. As a result, and which is line with what had been said about the Polokwane Hight Court, the DOJ no longer looked at it as a single site but looked at it as a single site that required certain things so that the DOJ could ensure a quality of service. With a single view of the different projects within the portfolio, the DOJ could start looking at the slow pace of implementation and unlock the slowness that they were responsible for. At an accountability level, the new framework would ensure that this could be managed properly. It was thus a two-pronged approach and no longer separated according to the different layers.
Deputy Minister Jeffery responded to the point raised relating to the Polokwane High Court and its state. This court was built on donated land and the problem was that on this land there was a spring. The court thus had to have a pumping system to pump the water out from the lower levels of the court. There was also a problem with the handover of the court where the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) did not want to take responsibility for the court because the contractors/builders had not fixed all of the snags. He was not entirely sure how this was resolved. The whole matter was the subject of a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation in terms of a proclamation that the President issued. The problem with the courts was that it was the DPWI that built them. In this case the DPWI had an arrangement with the Independent Development Trust for the building of the Polokwane High Court. The DOJ could see that there were serious problems and hoped that the SIU investigation into that court and a number of court buildings would uncover things. Regarding the point of people being acquitted because the magistrate’s evidence was virtual and the magistrate could not hear, he asked if Mr Dodovu could provide him the details of these cases because he was not aware of this. There had been provisions in the Criminal Procedure Act No. 51 of 1977 for some time, stating that evidence could be led virtually and that it was up to the court to rule on it.
On the issue of the filling of vacancies, the long and short of Minister Lamola’s answer was that the NPA got more money. With that money they were then able to rehire or hire people, set up their aspirant prosecutor programme etc. He did not have the details of how many new people were employed or vacancies were filled but he could get this from Minister Lamola if the Committee wanted. He knew that with the aspirant prosecutor’s programme, the aspirant prosecutors wrote their submission exams recently. The problem for the NPA was the further budget cuts putting them back to where they were. The NPA informed the DOJ that it could absorb these cuts for the current and next financial year which is 2021/22 but that after that there were going to be problems. This was where the issue may come of being able to pay existing staff. It was thus not a problem now and would not be a problem in the next financial year but might be a problem in the third year. Nobody was not being paid not but might not be paid in the third year, which might relate to the new staff taken on and specialised units. The specialised units were there for a purpose and it would be a problem if they had to be closed but this was also something for the third financial year.
Deputy Minister Holomisa thanked the Chairperson for the comments that she had made in terms of encouraging the DCS to do more of what it had been doing. The concern of Mr Dodovu was an understandable one and the DCS was aware that it seemed as though, when lawbreakers were empowered and capacitated, they were being favoured more than should be instead of addressing the concerns of those who were victims of the crime. The Constitution was what guided the DCS in what it was doing and told them that these people continued to be human beings who had rights like everybody else. The fact of taking a person’s liberty was punishment in itself. By being incarcerated one was being punished and there was no reason for them to be punished further while inside. Government had taken a decision that the DCS was not just a prisons department but a correctional service. The DCS aimed to rehabilitate these lawbreakers to make them better and productive citizens so that they are not easily attracted to crime once they finish their prison terms. The DCS wanted the opportunity that the lawbreakers had in the centres to be used in a positive manner to increase the number of people who have skills and are educated in communities.
It was known that in most instances it would be found that lawbreakers came out with better skills than the victims or the families of victims of their crimes, which did not sit well with people. However, before people are released, be it on parole, the DCS made sure that there was dialogue between the victims and offenders so that there is some understanding as to why it is that these people were getting the benefits that they were. The DCS did not want the lawbreakers to come out as worse individuals than they were before. Even with the rehabilitation programmes provided, the lawbreakers continued to receive other training from other lawbreakers inside the centres. If the DCS did not balance this by giving them more positive skills and left them to the wise of those who had taught them how to be better lawbreakers, then they would be producing people who were going to be a problem to society once they came out. This was why other departments were encouraged to do what they could to assist the victims of crime while the DCS did what they could to make the lawbreakers better citizens as they came out of their centres.
He thought that Mr Motsamai was supporting him when commenting that one wanted to change the person who got themselves into the DCS’ centres by making them a better person than upon entering the centres. The overcrowding in certain correctional centres was complained of, particularly in Boksburg and Johannesburg correctional centres. Mr Motsamai wanted to know what the DCS was doing to deal with overcrowding. Overcrowding was a perennial problem because criminals continued to be more in number than the bed spaces that existed. The obvious solution would be if money was available in unlimited supplies as more prisons would be built in order to incarcerate as many offenders as possible. However, this was not about to happen because even those prisons that were going to be opening were not going to accommodate the number of people who deserved to be incarcerated. There was a court judgement saying that there should at least not be more than 150% capacity of prisoners in any centre. The DCS always made sure that even if there was overcrowding because everything beyond 100% meant that there was overcrowding but the court was being realistic in saying that it should not be more than 150%. Where it was discovered that there was a likelihood of this percentage being exceeded, inmates were relocated to other centres – especially those not required to go to court on a regular basis – to ensure that the decision of the court is complied with.
Regarding people with criminal records not being easily employable, this was a reality. If someone had a criminal record, whether they had skills acquired while in the correctional centres, people tended to be negative towards them. This was why the DCS had a programme of embarking on an education campaign for the community to understand that it is in the interest of safer societies to employ these people who had been given skills with State resources that should have been used to do something else. If money was going to spent training and giving people skills and education only to find that that skill and knowledge would not be used productively, then this was a waste of State resources. It was thus important that these people are employed and the DCS appealed to businesses and communities to accept them. Offenders cannot hide the fact that they had been to prison as they must disclose it but there is no law that says that a person who has a criminal record must not be employed. All that must be done is to consider their circumstances and qualifications, as would be done with everybody else, and decide accordingly. It was unfair discrimination not to employ a person merely because that person has a criminal record when they have shown that they have the capability and qualifications to do the job that they are supposed to do.
It was agreed that inmates should be used to renovate schools, clinics, and other public facilities. Until Covid-19 struck, this was done using their labour and skills to make sure that they became of use by performing such functions to the communities that they had wronged. In addition to commending the good work that the DCS was doing, the Chairperson emphasised the point that the DCS may appear to be doing more for the lawbreakers than they deserved. The reality was that this was what needed to be done as the DCS. If this was not done, then the DCS would be failing in carrying out the mandate required of them. The DCS would be happy to provide the Committee with the full information regarding all that they were doing in all of the correctional services and facilities in their management areas. Similarly, the DCS would be happy to give the information with regard to the number of people that had been given skills and the type of skills that had been given to them through the DCS’ rehabilitation programmes.
Dr Minette Plaatjies, Commissioner: Personal Development, DCS, shared the sentiments that the DCS did not want to be seen to be doing more for the offenders. As government, a fine balance needed to be struck to show the law-abiding young people that it is not better to be in the DCS’ facilities. DCS welcomed people to visit their facilities as part of crime prevention. DCS worked with schools to show that it was not glamorous inside correctional facilities. One thing that was very important for a young person was their freedom. Thus, the DCS wanted young people to come into their facilities and see that freedom is the most important thing that has been taken away from people who had broken the law. Regarding the project or model where the DCS could involve people from the community, in the presentation the DCS had referred to a project that they had at Zonderwater where they involved parolees and law-abiding young people from surrounding communities to take part in a project. What the DCS needed to do, and what they were currently working on, was to strengthen the partnerships to involve more community organisations and other government departments to be able to attract more young people to do the practical part of their courses with DCS. The young people would then be part of the practical training that parolees go through.
DCS agreed with the explanation of Deputy Minister Holomisa in terms of finding employment with a criminal record. It needed to be remembered that there were law-abiding graduates in the community without employment. Employment was thus not only a challenge for people with a criminal record but was a reality of the country. What the DCS tried to get offenders to understand, and what should be instilled in young people, was that everyone would not be able to work for government – whether an ex-offender or law-abiding young person. It was important for the country to create a situation where young people and ex-offenders are encouraged to start their own business. As part of this, the DCS provided courses in entrepreneurship to offenders so that upon release, when they have their qualifications, they can also start their own business. In terms of the benefits of the programmes, the DCS has previously embarked on study tours to other countries and often invited their international counterparts of corrections to visit to them to exchange good practices. Research has shown that it has important and beneficial for offenders to receive the training, educational programmes, and other programmes and services that the DCS was offering them. Research showed that where a lot of human beings are warehoused without providing any services, they are then released from those facilities even worse than when they had come in.
The reality that South Africans were to expect was that the majority of offenders would return to their neighbourhoods. It was therefore in the interests of everyone to ensure that those people who had wronged the community did not go out and commit the same crimes. The attempt as DCS and government was to provide offenders with opportunities that some of them had not had because the opportunity was not available or because of the difficult past of South Africa. Government was now spending taxpayer’s money to skill offenders in order to prevent further crime. Regarding whether the programmes were beneficial, she confirmed that it was. DCS had a lot of good stories that it would share with the Committee. DCS had a branch called Social Integration, that dealt with community corrections and reintegration of offenders. There were very good stories of offenders who had started businesses and provided employment, which the DCS was happy to share with the Committee together with the work they had done in other provinces and different correctional centres.
Mr Motsamai asked Deputy Minister Holomisa if the Committee could visit a correctional service centre to see whether there was true rehabilitation in the centres. Most inmates left prison and came back. [2:20:45 – 2:20:53 not translated] He thus wanted the Committee to go to a correctional service centre and preform an oversight visit.
Deputy Minister Holomisa confirmed that the DCS would welcome a visit to any of the correctional service centres by any of the Members, including the Committee as a whole. The DCS wanted all of the support that it could get from the Committee. If there were shortcomings seen in the manner in which the DCS did their work, they wanted this to be pointed out so that they could do better.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Ministers for their responses and said that the Committee was taking the work that they were doing seriously. One of the Committee’s responsibilities was to make sure that they helped where they could. For instance, they had identified the issue of the NPA as a matter that needed to be taken up with either the NPA or National Treasury. This was to ensure that the NPA did not receive any budget cuts because it seemed as though they were suffering severely. The Committee was quite happy with the work that the DCS was doing and how it had responded to the Committee’s questions. The only thing that was left was for the Committee to go to the correctional service centres. The Committee did not need to ask permission from any ministry to go and visit centres of the DCS. When the Committee did their oversight, oversight visits to these centres formed part of their work to see whether there were any problems or if the work that the DCS was doing was beginning to bear fruits. Looking at the issue of inmates who are released from jail and are unable to get jobs, it was true that the issue of unemployment was prevalent. At the same time, she thought that the issue of the expunging of records at the DCS after an application by the offender after 10 years was too much. This was an issue that needed to be looked at. The DOJ&CS were excused.
Consideration and Adoption of Minutes
The Chairperson asked the Committee to look at and adopt or correct the minutes for 21 October 2020.
Mr Dodovu moved for the adoption of the minutes.
Ms B Bartlett (ANC, Northern Cape) seconded the adoption of the minutes.
The Chairperson mentioned that she was sure that the parliamentary officials had noted the information that the Committee needed to receive from the DOJ&CS and that it would be circulated to all Members. She reminded the officials of this because information had been requested from Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister: Higher Education, Science and Technology, but nothing had been received. If this information had not yet been received by the officials, she asked that they remind Dr Nzimande.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.