Department of Correctional Services 2020/21 Quarter 2 and 3 performance; with Deputy Minister

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Justice and Correctional Services

23 February 2021
Chairperson: Ms J Mofokeng (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The sub-committee convened in a virtual meeting to receive a briefing on the performance and financial reports of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) for the second and third quarters of the 2020/21 financial year.

The Department said that although it had not achieved many of its targets, it was on an upward trend, with performance levels rising from 55% in the first quarter to 61% in the second, and 69% in the third. The Sub-committee was not impressed by the low level of targets set, considering the size of the inmate population, specifically in respect of the rehabilitation programmes. They questioned the usefulness of performance indicators, and expressed the need for expenditure to be commensurate with performance. The Committee asked for an account on progress with the integrated Security System (ISS) and Integrated Inmate Management System (IIMS) in light of the increasing incidence of escapes.

Members also expressed concern about the viral load in correctional facilities, owing to the fact that some inmates did not want to take medication, and many had chronic illnesses. Another area flagged by the Members was the desire to have more information on education and skills training for inmates, so they could return to society as useful citizens. It congratulated the DCS on its publicised 86% matric pass rate, and asked for further information on how many inmates had written the exams.

The Department undertook to come back to the Sub-committee with more information about skills and rehabilitative programmes for inmates. It assured Members that it wanted to ensure that consequence management actually happened so that there was no increase in the culture of impunity within the Department, as was experienced in certain quarters.

Meeting report

Election of Acting Chairperson

Ms J Mofokeng (ANC) explained that Mr R Dyanyti, the Sub-committee Chairperson, was at a Magistrate's Commission meeting, and the Members there would be completing their work on Friday as they were having interviews. She was therefore standing in for him.

Adv G Breytenbach (DA) said she did not recall an election being held in this regard, and asked if Ms Mofokeng was elected or appointed.

Ms Mofokeng said she did not know, but if an election needed to be done, she thought that it should happen.

After discussion, it was agreed that nominations should be called for the position of Acting Chairperson. Ms Mofokeng was the only nomination, and was duly elected.

She welcomed Inkosi Phatekile Holomisa, Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Members of the Committee, the National Commissioner and his team, and other officials and guests.

Department of Correctional Services: Quarterly performance report

Deputy Minister Holomisa said he would present the financial and non-financial performance of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) for the second and third quarters of the 2020/21 financial year, spanning periods 1 July to 31 September 2020, and 1 October to 31 December 2020;

He began by contextualising the report, saying South Africa had declared a National State of Disaster and had been on lockdown since late March. The National State of Disaster was declared in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19. The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) had imposed a strict lockdown in April and May which had succeeded in slowing the spread of the virus, but had caused such economic damage that the country needed a gradual reopening in June. What the Department could be certain of was that the hard lock-down imposed in March had effected near fatal damage to an economy that was already on the ropes, before the onset of the pandemic. Four months into the pandemic, it was evident that while South Africa's hard lockdown at an early stage of the pandemic had initially slowed transmission, allowing some healthcare facilities in certain areas of the country to better prepare for the expected increase in transmissions, this was uneven and did not manage to stop transmission. The hardest hit provinces had been Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

From late July onwards, infection rates started declining and trended downwards, showing fewer new infections and a drop in natural excess deaths as restrictions were being eased, with social and economic activity increasing commensurately. Regulations were further eased as the country moved to a level one lockdown from midnight on Sunday 20 September 2020. The Department had a risk-adjusted strategy based on the National COVID-19 alert levels that referred to correctional facilities. People regularly cycled in and out of correctional facilities. Officials came in and left daily, and visitors regularly stream through.

Viruses of all kinds had multiple entry points, and those that enter tend to spread fast. The Department knows that COVID-19 spreads quickly. Many incarcerated people often have chronic conditions such as diabetes or HIV, making them vulnerable to severe forms of COVID-19. Like the country as a whole, correctional facilities experienced the same period of lockdown, but to many peoples’ surprise, unlike the country as a whole, correctional facilities performed better than expected in the first wave of the epidemic.

However, like the country as a whole, the lockdown in correctional facilities had its own adverse effects. It was imperative that knowledge of transmission and exposure patterns relating to COVID-19 in correctional facilities’ settings had to inform a calibrated and transparent response, not least because the most important component of the response was willing and voluntary compliance with mitigation measures by both inmates and officials. The Department's adherence to tried and tested public health interventions to control COVID-19 must continue unabated. This was absolutely critical if it was to avoid the worst ravages of the virus being witnessed in the northern hemisphere. Active adherence to public health measures and a robust testing and tracing infrastructure, as well as strengthened health care resources in anticipation of an increase in cases, were likely to be the deciding factors in how well the Department navigates the resurgence of COVID-19.

Quarter 2 performance

The Department had a total of 44 targets in the second quarter, of which 27 were achieved, amounting to a 61% achievement rate. The overall targets per programme were broken down in the presentation, with charts displaying the comparative percentages on facilities. He reported on the indicators not achieved, along with the reasons for under-achievement and the corrective actions to be taken for each indicator.

(See presentation for details)

Financial report

The expenditure for the period ending on 30 September was R12.095 billion, against the spending plan of R13.460 billion, resulting in a R1.364 billion under-spending against the projected expenditure. All programmes except for the Care Programme had been under-spent. The most under-spent item was payment for capital assets.

The total estimated COVID-19 expenditure for 2020/21, funded through the virements, amounted to R606.9 million, broken down as follows:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): R212.2 million.
  • Increase in healthcare workers capacity: R63.8 million.
  • Quarantine/ isolation units/ installation and rental: R21.6 million.
  • Laundry machines for isolation or quarantine sites: R1.4 million.
  • Mattresses for quarantine/ isolation sites: R23.2 million.
  • Information technology: R250 million
  • Computer and medical equipment R1.1 million
  • Decontamination of correctional facilities: R36 million.

As at the end of the second quarter, COVID-19 expenditure amounted to R225.5 million, against the budget of R606.9 million.

Compensation of employees (COE)

The CoE area was projected to over-spend due to the payment of additional standard and special COVID-19 allowances. The appointment of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members, and payment of overtime at 100%, were additional payments falling above the 30% threshold.

The COE projections were reviewed and it was estimated that the COE budget ceiling would be exceeded by R273.9 million. The projections would be reviewed monthly so as to ensure that the projected over-expenditure was down-managed.

Quarter 3 Performance

The Department had 42 targets for the quarter, which ran from 1 October to 31 December, of which 29 targets (69%) were achieved. The presentation detailed the reasons for underachievement, along with the corrective action to be taken.

(See presentation for details)

Financial performance

Expenditure for the period was R18.3, billion against the revised spending plan of R20.4 billion, amounting to an under-spending of R2.1 billion against the projected expenditure. All economic classification items barring transfers and subsidies had been under-spent, with the most under-spent item being payments for capital assets.

During the Adjusted Estimates of National Expenditure (AENE) process, a number of budget adjustments had been effected to the 2020 adjustments appropriation tabled in Parliament in October. These were listed in the presentation:

  • A virement of R374.4 million from CoE to households – post-retirement benefits for penalties to the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) in respect of officials who were approved to retire early without penalisation.
  • A virement of R1.5 million to fund the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) for information technology services.
  • A virement of R2.5 million was shifted from goods and services to machinery and equipment for the procurement of vehicles for JICS.
  • Self-financing amounting to R623 000 for offender gratuities made up a third of the revenue generated from offender labour during the 2019/2020 financial year.

The projected over-expenditure on the COE projections was reviewed in December, and it was estimated that the COE budget ceiling would be exceeded by R143.3 million, with a directive to stop, effective from 1 November 2020. The projections had been revised downwards and the Department would continue reviewing expenditure and projections on a monthly basis to ensure that they were down-managed


In conclusion, the Department had performed at the following levels:

Quarter 1: 55%

Quarter 2: 61%

Quarter 3: 69%

As lockdown restrictions had eased and the Department adapted to the new normal, it was observable that the Department's performance in terms of delivery of services was improving. The Ministry would oversee endeavours to ensure innovation, modernisation and further improvements in performance.

There were lessons to be learnt from this experience for the longer term. Until a vaccine, or comprehensive testing brought the virus under control, the inmate population would need to be carefully managed. The COVID-19 experience in Correctional Services had given a clear indication that there must be better co-ordination within the criminal justice system to manage remand detainees within its facilities, as this population posed a risk of bringing infection from the outside environment to the isolated sentenced offended population. A surge in admissions in correctional facilities exacerbated overcrowding, making it increasingly difficult to implement social distancing, hygiene and other COVID-19 measures.


The Chairperson said that there was a point she needed to clarify with Members, as she recalled that the Department had been meant to present only on quarter two. However, it had presented on quarter three as well, which had been scheduled for the Friday meeting. She said it was for Members to decide whether they would deal with quarter three. She was not sure and needed guidance.

Deputy Minister Holomisa said the Department had initially been told that the presentations would be done today. Because of this, it had decided to combine the two presentations for the two quarters. However, when it realised that there was a provision for a Friday sitting as well, it felt that it should nonetheless provide the Committee with what it would be providing it on Friday, so that there was a seamless process of the report, and in case it might want to ask questions that were answered in quarter 3. However, the Department was in the Committee's hands.

Mr J Selfe (DA) said the Chairpersons guidance as correct in saying that the programme was for quarter two today. However, it did not really affect anything.

He had some questions on the usefulness of performance indicators generally. Using the quarter 2 indicators as an example and referring to slide 34, there was a reference to a target for correctional programmes of 10%. He did not know what a correctional programme was and if it differed from a correctional sentence plan, but it seemed to him that the figure was very low, particularly given the requirement of section 38(1)(a) of the Correctional Services Act, for all sentenced offenders of over two years to undergo a correctional sentence plan. The more material point was that when one looked at the performance target set for skills and education, the total target was 7154 inmates who were participating in long skills and short skills technical and vocational education and training (TVET), general education and training (GET), and further education and training (FET), this seemed a very low target to him, if the intention was to rehabilitate people who were in correctional centres. He asked how many sentenced inmates were actually being skilled; what other rehabilitative programmes were being offered and how many; and why they were not being measured against performance indicators.

The Chairperson said that she thought the Sub-committee would discuss the matter of both of quarters and deal with them today, as Mr Selfe had dealt with both. When comparing the two quarterly reports, they were almost the same, with very little that had changed.

Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) said her first question related to schooling. The matric results had recently been announced, and she wanted to know how many offenders had written matric in 2020, and how many had passed. She was not sure if the DCS had the figures, as it was announced the day before and if they could not share the numbers now, she would wait for them to be provided at a later stage.

She said the reason given for the viral load target not being met was a refusal to take medication. She asked what the Department had done about the refusal, and why the inmates refused if the doctors and nurses were present to administer the medication. At the end of the presentation one quarter two, it showed performance improvement plans. She asked the Department to explain how the Department intended to manage absenteeism in schools, and this had not been explained.  

Mr W Horn (DA) referred to rehabilitation and specifically the skills programmes, and asked for more information in respect of the performance and targets which the Department had reported on being achieved.  He pointed out that when the Committee was first meeting with the Minister, the Deputy Minister and the Departments during the course of May and June 2020, and during the periods of the so-called hard lockdown, it had been informed that due to the impact of COVID-19, more or less all of the programmes aimed at rehabilitation had been put on ice. The Committee was never appraised as to whether additional efforts were put in later on in the financial year in the third quarter. However, an increase or improvement was now being reported in the programmes dealing with these matters, which seemed to be odd, given the fact that it had been told at the time that the programmes were put on ice for all practical purposes.

Regarding the bulk order for face masks in the Eastern Cape, if not a further explanation, then a further report on the issue was needed. From the report, it seemed like it had been an excessive order. He asked to be informed about what had transpired thereafter and whether it had been investigated internally. If it was an excessive order, he asked what measures had been put in place to ensure that the money had not been spent in vain, given the fact that face masks would be necessary for some time to come.

He referred to the R134 000 un-budgeted expenditure in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in the third quarter, which spoke mainly to interest on salary expenses. While the detail about this should be forthcoming, if it was the case that these were salaries that were in arrears for specifically senior officials who were on suspension, he asked for a full briefing on this at a later stage. It was clear that this was a serious issue. He asked that it be noted so that it could get to the bottom of the issue at the regional Head Office.

Ms N Maseko-Jele (ANC) congratulated the Department on how well the inmates had done in matric, as presented by the Minister. The Committee should not always hammer the Department, but should also congratulate them when they did something well. She asked for a whole presentation dedicated to the up-skilling of inmates so as to ensure that when inmates completed their terms, the Committee knew that it was returning skilled people to the communities. She also asked for information on how many inmates had registered at universities, and how they were doing.

Lastly, she told the team that it should work hard on the matter of escapees. The issue of escapees did not reflect well on the Department, as she thought there was security in its facilities, with responsible officials. She added that officials implicated in the escapes needed to be punished harshly.

The Chairperson said she had a question about the rent and land, and the interest incurred there. She asked what was happening in that area, and the area of salaries at headquarters. Lastly, she raised the issue of the Department being unable to meet its target on the integrated inmate management system, and wanted to know how far the Committee could ensure that it got things going. She had heard the DM mention something about quarter three, but her focus had been mainly on quarter two.

She asked that the Department note what Mr Horn had said about R134 000 un-budgeted expenditure in KZN) in the third quarter, which spoke mainly to interest on salary expenses, so that it could have an explanation at its next meeting. She felt this should be dealt with at the beginning, because it was a thorny issue.

Department’s response

Deputy Minister Holomisa said that issue was noted. It was a matter which had been dragging on for too long, with a lot of expenses being incurred, and was of concern to the Ministry. The Department would welcome an opportunity to explain what was happening to the Portfolio Committee, without violating any sub judice principles.

He said the Department was happy with the matric results. He did not know the actual figures, but did, know that the DCS achieved better than the national average by getting an 86.3% pass rate in matric students amongst the inmates.

A DCS Deputy Commissioner said the Department had had the opportunity to review its annual performance plan, and had re-looked at some of its indicators. At the time, it did not have enough information to make widespread adjustments, and it did not make changes to its medium term strategic framework (MTSF) targets. For quarter two, it had a rehabilitation programme target of 10%, but had actually achieved 37%. In Quarter 3, its target had been 30%, but it had achieved 58%.

There was a region that had ordered more face masks than needed. The excess had been distributed to other regions. Subsequently, in the quarter, the Department met its target, and had also asked that regions not procure mass masks, since it could provide.

The R134 000 amount related to instances where there was a dismissal of officials, after which the matter was taken on review or arbitration, to cater for the reinstatement of officials. When officials were reinstated, there would be retrospective payment of salaries from the date of dismissal. There was also a calculation of interest on the salaries which the dismissed officials would have received. This interest related to the instances where officials had been re-instated. The detail of each case and the description of what had happened in those cases could be provided.

Deputy Minister Holomisa said he could give information about measures taken against officials regarding the escapes in order to show that the Department was seriously concerned about the numbers, as it did not reflect well on the DCS as a security institution. In quarter two, there were 20 cases dealing with escape cases, and10 had been finalised and ten were still in progress. The sanctions issued for the finalised issues included three final return warnings, one corrective counselling case, three suspensions without salary, two dismissals and one acquittal. In quarter three, there were 23 cases of escape reported, and of these 15 were finalised and eight were in progress. The sanctions issued for the finalised 15 cases were two final return warnings, three withdrawals, four return warnings, four corrective counselling, one acquittal and one suspension without salary.

Mr Makgothi Thobakgale Chief Deputy Commissioner (CDC): Incarcerations and Corrections, apologised for the break in connection as he was at the Rooigrond Correctional Facility for inspection work. He wanted to provide responses to questions relating to incarcerations and corrections.

Starting with the number of inmates who wrote the matric exam, the total number of students in the DCS’s books was 160. The 124 referred to by the Minister were at the Robertson correctional facility, and the DCS could confirm that the pass rate was just over 86%. There were three other facilities that made up the difference between the 160 and the 124 pronounced by the Minister, and factoring those facilities in, the pass rate was 81%. He acknowledged that DCS’s targets in relation to the population of its facilities were not commensurate. The reason for this was that the Department worked on the basis of the capacity of its institutions in terms of how they were structured to accommodate rehabilitation and education facilities. On a yearly basis, it worked with the National Department of Education and other skills development agencies to accredit more of its institutions, and therefore to be able to increase the targeting.

The DCS would provide additional information on the production of masks. However, it was indicating that the order from the Eastern Cape affected how it would be producing masks and meeting targets. It had to focus on the Eastern Cape, which had interrupted the production flow and plans at other workshops.

The DCS was able to provide a presentation with statistics on school education, further education, tertiary education and training programmes, as well as the footprint of its educational programmes throughout its facilities.

Mr Arthur Fraser, National Commissioner, said the DCS was deeply embarrassed about the escapes and the state of security in its facilities. It was currently busy developing stabilisation plans to ensure that it was able to identify the causes and non-compliance with policies where there were escapes.

He asked if a report could be provided on absenteeism at schools, as nobody had addressed it.

Ms Mirriam Mabe, Acting Deputy Commissioner (ADC), DCS, referred to the inmates who refused medication, thereby affecting viral load suppression. The Department’s procedure was, starting with the nurse, one-on-one counselling with regard to the treatment regime. If that did not bear fruit, the inmate was referred for psycho-social counselling with a psychologist, who also did one-on-one counselling with the client. The DCS also continued with raising awareness on the effects of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) and the progression of the disease, as well as the client’s condition. Any adverse drug effect that the client may encounter, would also be discussed. The Department then conducts pharmacovigilance, where it reports any adverse events, and also assists the client with how to deal with any adverse events caused by the drug. It also looks into the medicine utilisation rate, in order to look into aspects of changing the treatment regime if the doctor agrees, as the client would be referred to a doctor for the review of the condition, as well as a review of treatment if there was any need. This was how the Department dealt with treatment refusal.

National Commissioner Fraser said he thought that the team had dealt with all of the questions thus far. He was not sure if there would be any follow-up questions.

The Chairperson asked if there were follow-up questions.

As there were none, it was clear that the Department needed to consider a number of things raised by the Members’ questions. When it came to its quarterly expenditure and performance, it needed to ensure that there was alignment between performance and spending going forward. It needed to take particular care in watching the COVID-19 expenditure, especially expenditure in the different regions.

On the integrated management system, the DCS needed to ensure the implementation that should be happening in identified facilities. This was something which the Committee had to monitor, and it would continue to do this. The DCS also needed to focus on monitoring and particularly, the increase in human resource capacity. The implementation of an assault prevention plan in correctional facilities required its attention. Lastly, there had to be implementation of consequence management where policies and procedures were not followed.

Deputy Minister's concluding remarks

Deputy Minister Holomisa thanked the Sub-committee once again for its guidance and its questions in order to empower and capacitate the Department to perform better. It had taken note of the issues raised, such as expenditure being commensurate with performance. The matter of the Integrated Security System (ISS) and IIMS (Integrated Inmate Management System) continued to be of grave concern to the Ministry, and it would continue to lean on the officials much more than it had been doing to ensure that there was forward movement.

On the question of consequence management, the DCS did not just want to say that it was looking into it. It wanted to ensure that consequence management actually happened so that there was no increase in the culture of impunity within the Department, as experienced in certain quarters. He thanked the Sub-committee for the support which it received from the Members.

The Chairperson asked the Members to reflect on the quarter two and three presentations. In her opinion, there were limited changes and in the absence of this, it would mean that on Friday, the Committee would not be dealing with quarter three, as she noticed that both Mr Selfe and Mr Horn had covered quarter three. She asked Committee Members if they had anything to add and to comment on whether she was out of step in suggesting that there was no need to meet on Friday to hear quarter three again. She asked the Members individually.

The Committee Members agreed.

Consideration of minutes

The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary to present the minutes for 19 February 2021, and went through each page asking if there were any corrections. There were none.

The minutes were adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.

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