Committee Report on Department Budget and Workshop: adoption

Correctional Services

22 June 2004
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

22 June 2004


Mr L Modisenyane (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Committee Report on Workshop
Committee Report on Department Budget

The Committee went through its workshop draft report and budget report to consider changes. The two reports were adopted with amendments. The DA objected to the Committee's report on the Department of Correctional Services' budget because its recommendations on vacant positions and HIV / AIDS were rejected by the majority.


Workshop draft report
The Chair noted that they would go through the draft report on the workshop and the recommendations made by the ANC and Mr Selfe (DA).

Mr J Selfe (DA) asked the Chairperson whether there had been any report back on the Committee's request for a briefing on the disturbances that had taken place at the prison in Port Elizabeth. The Chairperson said that they had made a written request asking for such a report but there had been no response thus far.

Mr Selfe (DA) asked if the Committee could follow up on this issue and perhaps give the relevant people a deadline when they should have given a response on the matter. The Chairperson said that this would be considered.

The Chairperson then noted that the Committee was going to go through each page of the draft report on the workshop and Members could put forward any suggestions as to changes that were to be made to the draft report on the workshop.

Mr Selfe (DA) noted that a change should be made on page two to the effect that the words "approximately" should be inserted before the prisoners' figures on the last paragraph of page two to make it more accurate as prisoner numbers are likely to change at any given time.

The Chairperson agreed. He further noted that the reference to prisoners would have to be changed, as there was a move to refer to prisoners as "inmates".

Mr Selfe (DA) stated that for the sake of accuracy, on page three of the report, the Committee should insert "as at the date of the briefing" when talking about the number of juveniles that are sent to prison as these were the figures of juveniles sent to prison at the time of the report. He also noted that the figures on the last paragraph of page three were incorrect as they did not add up and that they needed to be corrected.

The Chairperson noted that the insertion of the words "as at the date of the briefing" were to be inserted. He also noted that the incorrect figure recorded in the report was a mistake and it was supposed to read 536. He also added that there needed to be a change in the terminology from "prisoners" to "awaiting trial detainees" at the end of the paragraph.

Mr Selfe (DA) expressed doubts about the number of facilities that were functioning and whether they were 234 or 236.

Mr D Bloem (ANC) said that there were 234 facilities that were functioning and not 238 as stated in the report.

Mr Selfe (DA) suggested that the Committee double-check these figures for accuracy.

The Chairperson said that they would go with 234 as stated by Mr Bloem.

With respect to page four of the report, Mr Selfe (DA) was not sure if he had heard anything on impending releases.

Mr Bloem (ANC) said that if Mr Selfe was not sure on this matter it should not be included in the report, as the report could not contain uncertainties.

The Chairperson agreed that the paragraph should be deleted and the question of impending releases be put to the Minister at a later date. All agreed to delete this paragraph.

Mr Selfe (DA) asked whether in respect to page 10, the 49 000 additional personnel referred to in the report meant that the Department required 49 000 new staff or whether they needed to bring their present staff component to 49 000 so that they could fulfil their mandate.

Mr Bloem (ANC) agreed with Mr Selfe that the word "additional" be added to the sentence.

The Chairperson asked how many people the Department at present employed.

Mr Bloem (ANC) and Mr Selfe (DA) noted that there were approximately 33 000 employees.

Mr Bloem (ANC) further noted that they needed additional staff to the current 33 000 employees to reach 49 000 and not an additional 49 000 employees as Mr Selfe had thought.

Mr Selfe (DA) had a problem with how the sentence on page 13 was formulated in respect of the cost of incarcerating each prisoner.

Mr M Moatshe (ANC) noted that the R8.4 million in the report referred to the total expenditure of all prisons. He suggested that the report read, "between the years 2004 - 2005, it will cost the government R113.99 to keep each prisoner incarcerated per day", and that the rest of the paragraph be deleted as it was confusing.

Mr Bloem (ANC) also suggested that rather than say "each prisoner" they should instead insert the word "a prisoner" as each prisoner has different needs. Mr Selfe agreed with this.

Mr Selfe suggested that the issue of alignment of budgets be included in the final recommendation. The process of alignment of the budget was not complete. He also noted that they should expressly state that the Committee would like to be involved in this process so as to insure that there is an alignment between what the National Treasury gives the Department and what the Department in trying to achieve. He suggested that they add this recommendation as a further bullet.

Mr Bloem noted that asking the Department and National Treasury to account for this process of alignment would amount to them going back to the debate they had with the two bodies where they explained how the National Treasury operates. He did not think that it was suitable to put this recommendation in the report and asked that the Committee not include it in the report.

Mr Selfe noted that the Department had put rehabilitation at the centre of its activities. There was however no programme in the department specifically called "rehabilitation". There was a huge budget on administration, which contained all the salaries. The Commissioner admitted that the budget did not reflect what the Department wanted to do so it was difficult to check if the department was employing the money to achieve its strategic goals. This is what he was referring to when he was asking that they insert budget alignment in the report.

Mr N Fihla (ANC) noted that when speaking of rehabilitation one is speaking of the totality of a new strategy employed by the Department to try and change the individual and therefore one could not single out one activity as aiming at rehabilitation.

The Chairperson, referring to the comment made by Mr Selfe, preferred that the Committee not demand to be involved in the process of budget alignment as he preferred the Committee to play the role of watchdogs and that they would in any event be involved in the adoption of the plan.

Mrs L Chikunga (ANC) said that rehabilitation was not a stand-alone entity and that it started from the point of the admission of the inmate. It is a process imbued in all other processes and it extended even to the administration. She also noted that the Department's programmes did focus on rehabilitation and agreed with Mr Bloem that they exclude Mr Selfe's recommendation until a later date.

Mr Selfe's recommendation was therefore rejected.

The Report was adopted with the amendments.

Committee Report on Department budget
Mr Selfe (DA) noted that on page four of the report (dated 10 June 2004), they should make use of the word "approximately" once again as the figures recorded on the report were not cast in stone. He also said that changes were to be made to the paragraph dealing with the per capita costs of incarcerating prisoners. There was a need for clarification on what it costs to keep a prisoner incarcerated.

Mrs Chikunge (ANC) agreed with the insertion of the word "approximately". She noted that the sentence referring to the additional staff required should remain as formulated in the report as it was not clear how many additional employees they would need as they were estimating and not sure about the exact figure. Mr Moatshe (ANC) agreed.

Mr Selfe (DA) noted that the Committee had had a briefing on the need for more psychologists in the Department and South Africa as a whole. He suggested that on page 5 of the budget report they highlight the exact number of professional staff that the Department would require to fulfil its mandate. This would give the Department direction as to which areas it needed to focus on.

Mr Moatshe (ANC) did not agree with Mr Selfe's recommendation. He did not think that they could give the breakdown of the professional staff required and that this was something that the Minister could do instead.

Mr Bloem (ANC) also noted that the Committee was dealing with a report and that if they were to go into detail and tabulate all the professionals the department was short of they would have a long report at the end of the day. So far there were 1147 vacant posts that needed to be filled. He agreed with Mr Moatshe that they leave the report as is and that any questions on this topic would be directed to the Minister in Parliament.

Mr Selfe (DA) said that the Committee already knew how many vacant posts there were and the Department would have information on the breakdown on the three basic professional categories where they were experiencing shortages (nurses, psychologists and social workers). If these figures were readily available then they should be included in the report, if not then they could be left out.

The Chairperson noted that if the figures were to be included they were not to delay the whole process and that one could easily ask the Minister to expand on this issue and it would be equally as effective.

Mr Bloem (ANC) noted that last week's Sunday Paper had advertisements on the job posts where the Department was currently facing shortages.

Mr Bloem (ANC) noted that on page 7 of the report it was not clear what the second implementation phase of the HIV/AIDS programme was. He asked whether the second phase consisted of the Department implementing the government's anti-retroviral roll out plan.

Mrs Chikunge (ANC) clarified the matter and said that the sentence in the report should read instead "the Department will be involved in the government's roll out implementation plan to HIV-positive prisoners".

All agreed on the construction of the sentence as suggested by Mrs Chikunge.

Mr Selfe (DA) asked for clarity on whether the department was building new facilities for the Headquarters rather than purchasing an existing building.

Mr Bloem (ANC) said that they were building a new facility.

Report recommendations
The Chairperson noted that the ANC and the DA had made the recommendations.

Mr Bloem (ANC) noted that the recommendations made by the ANC and the DA on the increase of staff were not vastly different, only that the DA had made their recommendation in a long-winded manner.

Mr Selfe (ANC) noted that there was a difference in what he was recommending. The Minister had briefed the Committee on overtime and job creation. By implementing the four-shift system this would create more jobs without having to increase the departments' budget. His recommendation therefore endorsed the Minister's briefing.

Mr Moatshe (ANC) agreed that there was a need to employ more people. At present the employees at the correctional facilities were working long hours and this led to inefficiency and escapes from prison, as the workers were not as vigilant. An increase in staff members would solve this problem.

Mr Bloem (ANC) noted that they could not employ more people than they had budgeted for. The ANC agreed with Mr Selfe's recommendation and this is exactly as the ANC had proposed in the report only in not so many words. He felt that the Department should rather explain how they would implement the plan after consulting with the relevant role players.

Mr Selfe (DA) noted his objected to the adoption of the paragraph as stated by the other Committee Members.

With reference to the correctional programme Mr Selfe (DA) noted that there needed to be a programme that addressed each individual offender's needs and this had not been done yet because of the shortage of professional staff. There was also a need to cut down the prisoner population and increase opportunities for correctional supervision as a sentencing option. The Committee had to communicate this clearly to the National Assembly and the public.

Mr Selfe's (DA) proposal on the increase in the money needed on correctional supervision was adopted.

With respect to the Care Programme, Mr Selfe (DA) noted that there were insufficient funds available considering the specialist services required in this area. He said that the programme should focus more on HIV/AIDS.

Mr Bloem (ANC) did not agree with the specific reference to HIV/AIDS considering the number of diseases that an inmate could suffer from. He suggested that allocation of resources to the care programme must be based on the acknowledgement of challenges prisoners face. He suggested they should leave it open ended to cover all diseases.

Mr Fihla (ANC) agreed with this and said that the Department must be able to use the increased funds to deal with any diseases that the inmates would face, as they are easy targets for a number of diseases.

Mr Moatshe (ANC) noted that a prison should not be seen as a HIV hospital or hospice and that inmates are vulnerable to a variety of diseases and that it would not be right to single out HIV as a problem. The Department could give the required special attention to the HIV/ AIDS issue but as far as the Committee was concerned every disease was important.

Mr Selfe (DA) said that the question that the Committee should be asking itself in terms of the care programme was what were the challenges being faced at the moment. And that if they took the ANC recommendation on the care programme of leaving it broad the report would be unspecific and not highlight the problem areas. He suggested that the report be more specific and highlight HIV /AIDS as he had suggested.

Mrs Chikunge (ANC) acknowledged that the World Health Organisation had declared HIV/AIDS a pandemic but there were other diseases like cholera that posed a serious threat to the inmates and needed to be addressed as well and on this basis one could not single out one disease as a problem. If anyone wanted more specific information for example on HIV/AIDS they could go to the Department for such information.

The ANC recommendation on this matter was taken. Mr Selfe (DA) objected and said that he would raise his objection when debating the report.

The Budget Report was adopted with amendments. Mr Selfe of the DA objected.

The meeting was adjourned.



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