Violence against women & access to 13

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE QUALITY OF LIFE AND THE STATUS OF WOMEN

JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE QUALITY OF LIFE AND THE STATUS OF WOMEN
17 November 1999
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN & ACCESS TO JUSTICE: HEARINGS

Chair: Pregs Govender (ANC)

Programme
Justice College
Women's Health Project
Police Commissioner
Regional Court magistrates
Department of Correctional Services
Department of Finance

Documents handed out
Justice College: Progress Report & Beijing Platform of Action Report
Department of Correctional Services Input
Sexual & Reproductive Rights, Health Policies & Programming In South Africa 1994-1998: Woman's Health Project (email womenhp@wn.apc.org)
Women's Health News & Views - Woman's Health Project newsletter

SUMMARY
The Chief Director of the Justice College focused on the functions of the Justice College which is responsible for the training of magistrates, prosecutors, clerks and interpreters. She spoke about various special projects, training programs, budget, donor funding and problems.

The Women's Health Project presented on the need for accurate statistical data on rape and other abuses of women, the appropriate response from the health sector to violence and the need to look at it together with ensuing problems such as HIV / AIDS. She emphasised the need of the health department to record information on violence against women.

The Western Cape Deputy Police Commissioner read a statement from Commissioner Fivaz who said that it was unfair to create perceptions that the police were doing nothing for victims. The committee found the statement to be "disappointing" and "far from the truth" as what it said differed vastly from what was experienced in practice.

The committee heard from a delegation of magistrates of the Regional Court. The problems in the regional courts in general and in the sexual offences courts in particular were outlined. It was pointed out that there were no sexual offences courts in the rural areas. Various other problems in the Criminal Justice System were highlighted and various solutions were suggested.

The Department of Correctional Services dealt with various issues including offender rehabilitation and the victim empowerment programme.


The Department of Finance was not ready with its presentation. A

written submission is expected shortly.

MINUTES
Justice College
Ms Cecille Van Riet, the Chief Director of the Justice College, focused on the functions of the Justice College which is responsible for the training of magistrates, prosecutors, clerks and interpreters. She spoke about various special projects, training programs, budget, donor funding and problems. (See Appendix 1)

Questions and comments
The Deputy Chairperson (ANC) requested a breakdown of the people in charge of training in the various provinces.

Ms van Riet said that in terms of legal training a specific person was not in charge. In the regional offices trainers were unfortunately appointed without any legal background. She said this was fine with the training of clerks but was difficult when it came to the training of judicial officers, since the training is fairly technical. However funding had just been obtained the previous day from US AID.

Magistrates are divided into 14 Clusters according to the nine provinces but the big provinces have an A and a B cluster e.g. Gauteng, Eastern Cape, and Kwazulu Natal have A and B clusters. In each cluster, there is a chief magistrate who is a cluster head. She said that she arranged most of her training through the chief magistrates. US AID had agreed to appoint a permanent tutor, who would be a retired experienced magistrate or practitioner, in each of the clusters to handle the training, which she said, would help immensely. The reason for not wanting academics to do such training was that often the top academics would not be able to answer a question by a judicial officer regarding a practical problem. She thus felt that it would be preferable that magistrates and judges do the training since practical rather than academic training was the focus. The same applied with prosecutors.

An ANC member said that the training was obviously geared towards transformation of the judiciary. He was concerned about those old order magistrates with their hardened attitudes doing the training.

Ms van Riet said that the member had a valid point about the attitudes of some. She said that trainers were themselves first trained in terms of social context training to deal with this issue. She said that whilst this problem of attitudes was a real one, it was monitored and eliminated wherever possible. Not just any trainer was simply appointed. They were scrutinised and monitored closely at first. She said that correct attitude was something people had to be alert to.

There was a query about the many donors funding the College's activities and how such funds related to the Department of Justice. Was the Justice College independent from the Ministry and who managed these funds?

Ms van Riet said that the College was not independent of the Department of Justice. Donor funding was organised through the Department. Once the funding is attained it goes through the fiscus. The exception was where a special arrangement was made to fast-track a project as was done with the violence against women project with Danish funding. In terms of this arrangement an agreement is made with an NGO who then receives the funding and they manage the funding. They do the reporting to the donor. In this way it is possible to access the funding faster. She said that it was true that there were many donors as everyone was very keen to train South Africa's magistrates and prosecutors but the whole process had to be carefully managed and co-ordinated.

The Deputy Chairperson (ANC) asked whether Ms van Riet was working closely with the National Network on Violence Against Women.

Ms van Riet said that the College had a link with the Network. She said that the two training efforts in the Northern Cape and the North West were done with the assistance of the Network. She said that the Network would not allow them just to focus on Gauteng - which is why further funding has been requested.

There was a query as to whether judges were also given this "upgrading course" or refresher course.

Ms van Riet said that this was a very sore point. She was trying to facilitate the involvement of judges in the magistrates training programme so that they get to know each other. Judges would then get to see the quality of some of the magistrates. However an opportunity to get magistrates and judges together on a training course was declined. This highlighted the fact that judges still to a large extent had an elitist attitude and did not want anything to do with magistrates.

Ms J Benjamin (ANC) wanted to know how many people had been trained already and whether there was any assessment of the effectiveness of the training especially in relation to people with deep-seated beliefs.

Ms van Riet said that 1300 magistrates had already been trained regarding attitudinal changes. She said that with the help of donor funding they were able to have weekend training of magistrates in a de-centralised manner in groups of 50 throughout the country. Whilst it was an expensive exercise, it was effective since there was time for people to confront their own bias, for personal growth and to really effect attitudinal changes. The issue of the qualitative impact assessment of the training was a difficult issue. She had been grappling with this since her appointment, because each time she applied for donor funding, the donors ask her how the impact was to be assessed. This was difficult because magistrates are independent. For an informal assessment, you could receive reports from the cluster heads on how the magistrates were performing, look at their review cases or hear from their colleagues. There was however no formal assessment. She said that one of the proposals accepted the previous day by US AID was the development of impact studies. She added that she had to admit that there were those magistrates and prosecutors who had to be chalked down as failures, whom people will not change easily.

An ANC member asked why the training was not also aimed at the SAPS and Correctional Services. She also wanted to know what the College's relationship was with the courts in the rural areas, the chiefs and so on.

Ms van Riet said that in terms of "cross-cutting training" there have been a few but judicial officers are independent and resist being trained together with prosecutors, even more with investigating officers. There would be a big course like this on drug trafficking but otherwise funds are limited. In relation to chiefs, she said that until now there had been no relationship with them, since the focus has been on the legal staff - on magistrates. The Law Commission has been talking about setting up of chiefs courts. She said that she had attended a workshop on this already.

There were remote rural areas where the court sat for less than an hour per day and the conviction rate was less than 20%. Service delivery for the Department of Justice was assessed in terms of convictions and this was very weak in the remote areas where there was a lack of infra-structure and motivation. To try and address this, six teams including a prosecutor, lecturer and a magistrate trainer from the College, were sent to the six worst places for a week with the instruction to observe for a day to see what the problem was - whether it was the magistrate or the prosecutor. They would even do on the job training because she said that often it was simply a lack of experience which caused the problems. Where it was found that other problems were the causes, for example, people were drunk on duty, training was not going to help. She said that due to lack of funds six teams were all she could afford. With donor funding she said that there could perhaps be twenty groups.

Women's Health Project
Marion Stevens of the Women's Health Project focused on three issues: the importance of good statistical data, what is an appropriate response from the health sector, looking at violence and Human Rights.

Data
President Mbeki was correct in questioning statistical data. It is true that little attention is devoted to developing baseline data on rape and violence against women. Methodologically it was hard to research and this had been left to a few NGOs who have tried to quantify this material (on their limited budgets). Violence against women was a hidden phenomenon because of the stigma associated with it coupled with the fact that perpetrators of violence against women are often intimate male partners, or males known to the survivor. Even without the data it was clear that rape was endemic in our society, whether every 26seconds or every hour.

Who should be responsible for monitoring and quantifying these crimes? The Department of Health had never monitored the instances of violence against women. Human Rights Watch found that the Health sector provides inadequate reports for evidence in judicial proceedings. It has been left to the Department of Safety and Security to record the number of women who have been willing to walk into a police station and report their rape. This only provides limited information about the actual numbers of rapes and this, she said, was because most women would rather not endure the procedure of reporting the crime, having just experienced being raped. Women are generally not given a separate room and a sympathetic ear. However she believed that the Department was taking steps to improve this situation.

The Medical Council has been trying to quantify the prevalence of abuse against women. According to a report earlier this year by Naiema Abrahams, 30% of men reported sexually abusing their partner. In another study in the northern part of the country, 50% of women thought that they could not refuse to have sex with their husband. Over 50% of women believed that it was culturally acceptable that if a wife did something wrong, her husband had a right to punish her. In the Northern Province 58% of women thought that if a man beats you it means that he loves you. The question was, that if this was what women believe, one wonders how they would define rape and if it would be possible to talk about it.

In terms of data it was time for better information and the state had to budget appropriate resources.

Health Services
In terms of records she said that the health department had a responsibility to record information on violence against women. Health workers were not required to record any information on violence against women. She said that if it is recorded it was under the category of general assault. Violence against women needs to be included as a category in its own right in patients reports. The categories could range from rape, physical abuse, incest, emotional abuse.

Studies have indicated that general practitioners (GPs) are the first point of call for a significant number of survivors of domestic violence. GPs therefore need effective training. Women consult GPs not only to treat physical injury or rape, but they often seek help associated with illness such as depression, sexual dysfunction or body pain. Treating the women is often problematic because they seek help too late, particularly when they suffer from psychological residue associated with domestic violence.

To meet the training needs of GPs, Women's Health Project in association with Family Medicine at the University of Witwatersrand had piloted a course for GPs on violence against women. Training is essential as the department of health is phasing out the district surgeon system. The role played by primary health care providers has thus increased, with GPs assuming tasks previously performed by district surgeons.

Most of the GPs felt inadequate in coping with issues surrounding domestic violence. Thirty-three percent of the GPs who attended the course reported that they saw women in violent situations almost on a daily basis and a further 13 percent saw them at least once a week. Sixty two percent of the doctors saw women who had been raped more than once a month.

Where the GPs could deal with the physical aspects such as rape and injury, they were wary and felt ill-equipped to deal with "private" aspects of the problem such as offering counselling and referring survivor to social structures that could offer assistance (such as legal institutions and shelters).

The law has made it mandatory for GPs to follow certain procedures. They have to follow a strict examination protocol and fill in forms that clearly spell out the nature and extent of the injury to ensure that abusers are charged and convicted. The J88 form provides evidence for a court of law in order to prosecute the perpetrator if the survivor wishes to press charges. These records need to be available in case charges are pressed at a later date. Traditionally, forensic evidence collected by the health workers has not been adequate for the prosecution of alleged offenders.

In addition to the medical forms, the new Domestic Violence Act allows survivors of domestic violence to get a protection order from the court for which GPs can help survivors to apply. The order protects survivors from continued violence by the perpetrator. The application can be made during or outside court hours if there is evidence that the victim may suffer undue hardship if the application is not dealt with immediately.

Further, it is critical for the GPs to have in their rooms a list of resources that women can access. The list would typically have contact addresses of shelters, legal representatives and other social structures. The importance of NGOs in providing these services cannot be underestimated.

Finally, health workers have a role in assisting women who have been violated by validating the woman's experience, treating and, where necessary, referring the patient. The guiding principle always is to allow the woman herself to decide what action is required and to support her decision. In addition, health workers have a role to play in educating men about sexual health, intimacy and the meaning of gender and the balance of power between men and women at all levels of society.

She said that the reality was that South Africa still needs a systematic approach to violence against women with the Department of Health intersecting with the Departments of Safety and Security, Justice and Welfare. She said that while the new Domestic Violence Act was supposedly being implemented this week she felt that most health care workers were unaware of their responsibilities in terms of the new legislation.

Human Rights
The violence against women in our society also speaks to the human rights of women in our society. She said that clearly there was something wrong. South Africa prides itself as a country based on human rights laws to address the past yet why is it that human rights are essentially being limited to men. She asked why there were so few men actively speaking out against violence against women.

Sexual rights include the human rights of women to have control over and to decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to their sexuality. The Womens Health Project is facilitating a campaign along with other national NGOs to deal with sexual rights. It aims to look at the interface of HIV/Aids and gender, violence against women and adolescent sexual health. The point which this campaign makes is that one cannot look at violence on its own because these other health issues - women who are raped get HIV - there is a whole cycle.

The sexual rights campaign is building awareness around these issues and building the ability of communities to take action at a local level. It is creating consensus amongst different sectors on priorities for action in these fields. Trainers are being trained to run sexual rights workshops. Participants are taught to take action at a personal level to promote their sexual rights, whether it be talking to their children about their sexuality or working out with their partners how to negotiate for safer sex. At a community level action is taken by participants to promote sexual rights, for example setting up support groups, tackling sexual harassment in schools or tackling hostile health services not really dealing with women's health needs. She said that next year a sexual rights charter would be developed.

She said that they believed that this was one way decision makers could get involved and she urged them to adopt a sexual rights approach as it was articulated in the Beijing conference and to be involved in the development of the charter.

Questions and comments
The Chairperson, Ms P Govender said that according to the Womens Health Project report, all available shelters had been developed by NGOs and nothing had been developed from government. However according to the Welfare Ministry there were about 40 shelters or "one stop centres" set up by government. She wanted to know if this had happened after the report.

Ms Steven said that it could well have since the report had been published at the beginning of the year. Her information had come from NGOs dealing with domestic violence. She knew that the Department of Welfare funded some salaries of social workers in shelters. A few shelters were being built on the East Rand but up until the beginning of the year none were up and running. However she did not know whether between March 1999 and now, 40 had begun functioning.

The Women's Health Project was based in Gauteng at Wits University but did not have structures around the country. They work closely with the National Network on Violence Against women and a number of domestic violence NGOs. Whilst the Department of Welfare was setting up these shelters, she said that this was certainly not enough. She felt that there had to be more resources given.

Apart from the lack of data and information collection on violence against women by the Department of Health, the Chairperson asked what else should the department have been doing.

Ms Stevens said that within the White Paper on the Transformation of Health services, violence against women was dotted here and there in the different sections and is alluded to but it is not dealt with adequately. The challenge for Health was how to deal with it across the directorates appropriately also she did not think that health workers were adequately trained around sexual health.

Ms Benjamin (ANC) asked who staffed the majority of health centres. Ms Stevens said that it was mostly women and primary health care nurses
Ms Benjamin felt that this group should be focused on first. She felt that there should be a massive lobby to change the existing power relations between nurses and doctors for them to be more effective and accessible. Ms Stevens said that she agreed with this suggestion completely. She mentioned the pilot project in the Eastern Cape for primary health care nurses dealing with violence against women.

In answer to whether the Women's Health Project had any interaction with the Department of Education, Ms Stevens said that they did not really have a sustained relationship with the Department of Education. She said that some of their sister NGOs are working more closely with the Department developing sexuality education for schools. Within the sexual rights campaign, there are two representatives from the Department of Education. They do receive the Women's Health Project quarterly newsletter as well.

Safety and Security Ministry
Ms Zelda Holtzman, Deputy Provincial Commissioner of the Western Cape, stood in for the Safety and Security Minister, Steve Tswete.

She said that she would read a statement prepared by the Commissioner Fivas on the issue of violence against women and sexual offences as well as briefly summarise the document prepared for the hearings.

His statement referred to the Commission on Gender Equality's criticism that the attitude of the police to domestic violence is appalling in that few police officers were good at dealing with domestic violence, many did not know the law on domestic abuse and the needs of victims and victim empowerment were overlooked.

The Commissioner claimed that crimes against women and children were priorities. Victim empowerment was said to be part of the community policing philosophy and was being integrated into police practice and procedures.
A training programme had been developed to equip members with basic knowledge and skills in this area and all SAPS members would be trained in this over the next two years. In terms of the Domestic Violence Act, SAPS national instructions have been compiled and all SAPS members must be trained in terms of these instructions. Trainers have been and continue to be trained. Police stations are in the process of becoming more victim friendly. 524 police stations have become victim-friendly already and R1 million had been allocated for rape victim care packages containing basic toiletries.

The essence of the statement was that it was unfair to create perceptions that the police were doing nothing for victims.

Questions and comments
Members of the committee said that they were disappointed by the statement by Commissioner Fivaz which categorically criticised the recent reports of disregard police officers tend to show to victims of domestic violence. The members felt that the statement was "disappointing" and "far from the truth".

Ms S Nqodi (ANC) said that what the statement said, differed vastly from what was experienced in practice.

A member said she came from a rural township and knew the situation there, and thus the National Commissioner's statement was really disappointing.

The chairperson said that in 1994 85% of police stations were still in previously white areas. She wanted Ms Holtzman's comment on the extent to which this had changed. She also said that priority crimes such as hi-jackings had a separate budget. She wanted to know whether crimes of violence against women had a separate budget and what it was. She said that women's groups had criticised the National Crime Prevention Strategy for not recognising domestic violence as a separate crime category making it difficult to check the extent of domestic violence.

Ms Holtzman said in relation to a separate budget, money has been released from the detective services budget for victim care packages, and victim empowerment programmes. In relation to domestic violence being categorised as a separate crime, she said that if one looked at the codification which came through the Criminal Procedures Act, domestic violence was not classified as a crime. She said that this was a concern was being dealt with by Chris de Kock of the Crime Records Centre who was tasked to look at this and ways to categorise domestic violence crimes.

An ANC member stated that in the rural areas police often did not respond to calls for assistance in domestic violence situations but just made fun of them.

Ms Holtzman said that unfortunately police were in some instances not dealing with domestic violence effectively. She had witnessed this herself. She agreed that something needed to happen, which went beyond training, involving co-operation between the community and the police. She felt that there should be severe consequences for police poking fun at calls for assistance otherwise they would simply continue to do so. She took the responsibility to address this. She however said that there were codes of conduct in place.

Regional Court magistrates
A delegation consisting of magistrates of the Regional Court , headed by its President, Ms G Khan, focused on the problems experienced with the processing of rape cases within the criminal justice system.

Ms G Khan's specific focus was on the logistical problems in this regard. The regional courts heard 95% of all rape cases (as the court of first instance). There was currently a backlog of 7000 cases in the regional courts. There were only ten permanent seats of the regional court in the Western Cape, as well as satellite courts in the rural areas such as Malmesbury, Springbok, Calvinia Vredenberg, Vredendal and so on. A major problem was that only 4 sexual offences courts were situated in urban areas while there were none in rural areas. If a child was raped in Springbok, the matter would have to be heard in the Cape Town Sexual Offences Court. This often led to numerous problems including long delays, wasted costs, a low conviction rate and basically a very inefficient criminal justice system.

She said that the most serious problem in regional courts was the shortage of magistrates. She felt that provision should be made for acting magistrates to be employed. A shortage of interpreters was another big problem. She felt that it was a serious psychological health hazard for prosecutors and magistrates to adjudicate in sexual offences courts for lengthy uninterrupted periods of time.

Her proposals were:
- There have to be more regional court magistrates employed.
- Sexual offences courts in rural areas have to be established.
- Rape cases have to be taken out of the system and have to be fast-tracked.
- Rape cases have to be heard on the basis of a continuous roll.
- More skilled and experienced regional court prosecutors have to be employed in sexual offences courts.
- Prosecutors, magistrates and judges have to undergo a program to train them to handle traumatised victims.
- A psychological support program for magistrates and prosecutors in sexual offences courts should be looked at.

Ms Immelman dealt mainly with the facts and statistics regarding appeals against regional court convictions and sentences. She stated that the reality with sexual offences cases was that there was quite an alarming acquittal rate. She said that this should not be frowned upon in light of the strict evidentiary rules in the criminal justice system including the cautionary rule regarding the evidence of a single witness. She said that when the single witness was a young child, the task of the presiding officer became even more difficult when credibility findings had to be made.

She quoted statistics for 1999:
April: 15 cases finalised by the sexual offences courts
Guilty 8; not guilty 7.
May: 22 cases finalised
Guilty 15; not guilty 7.
June: 21 cases finalised.
Guilty 12; not guilty 9 and so on.

With regard to appeals, from 11 February 1997 till the present, about 850 matters were finalised in the sexual offences courts in Wynberg. There were only about 40-45 appeals against convictions of which only 14 were successful indicating that regional courts have been doing something right. She said that magistrates had the best opportunity to assess a witness's performance, an advantage a presiding judge on appeal does not have. The recent increase in setting aside convictions on appeal has thus been a cause for concern.

Mr Hennie pointed out various concerns about the adversarial system in general and the cautionary rules with regard to single witnesses in particular. He said that the adversarial system assumes that both parties were equal but doubted whether there was in fact equality when a little girl was the one party and an elderly man with a senior advocate was the other. When equality was lacking, he said that the truth too often became the view of the powerful. The adversarial system has been criticised by many academics as well. He said that much of the outcome of a case depended on the ability, wit, energy, ruthlessness and even permissible rudeness which a cross examiner might display. The selfish and partial manner with which parties are allowed to present evidence results often in procedural and formal truth being promoted at the expense of material truth. He said that therefore you may know in your heart that the accused raped a child, but the strict rules of evidence prevent finding him guilty.

These strict rules had to be reviewed with a view to reforming them. He suggested that an inquisitorial system had to be implemented with a freer system of evidence. He said that without it children would continue to be trampled on by an experienced cross examiner.

Mr Musi suggested that the general rule should be for children to testify through an intermediary, and only in exceptional circumstances she should be required not to and not vice versa. He said that minimum sentences for serious offences such as rape should be more strictly applied and not on a discretionary basis as was happening currently.

Mr Venter spoke about the problems experienced in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. There was little infrastructure and support services available even though the courts had been in existence for years already. The courts were badly underfunded, not even having a proper photo copy machines, which caused unnecessary delays for example in the granting of interdicts. There was a problem with security and there were instances of assault even inside the offices. Some women were too scared to leave the offices since they knew that the alleged perpetrator would be waiting outside. He thus said that security had to be improved at the Family Courts and proper accommodation also had to be given to them. He felt that there was a lack of knowledge with regard to the remedies of the Act and felt that an awareness campaign was needed to address this. With regard to the new Domestic Violence Act, which has yet to come into operation, there were not enough funds available for sheriffs fees. He said that these funds simply had to be made available since the Sheriff was entitled to refuse delivering a summons if his service fees were not paid. Further it was unclear who was going to print the 13 new forms the Act refers to. He concluded that women's rights could not be safeguarded if there was no money in the budget for these and other needs.

Questions and comments
The Chairperson referred to various issues which were raised by the presenters and said that the committee would take these issues up with the appropriate ministries.

The members felt that the presentation was well done and were pleased with the various proposals brought forward which could expedite the process and take it forward.

The Chairperson said that it was agreed that more magistrates were needed. However she referred to the report of incidents of prosecutor and magistrate drunkenness and the fact that some courts were open for only an hour a day, She wanted to know what could be done about this and more broadly whether resources were being utilised optimally.

Ms Khan said that there was such a problem with incidents of rolls collapsing which caused a waste of time and resources. She said that the problem was effective court management which was not happening due to prosecutors not being effective. To try and address this Ms Khan has introduced a system where a court nag is appointed to try and make sure that cases set to run will in fact run. Thus the Nag would phone witnesses and all role players in a case two weeks prior to the date to ensure that they will be available for the case.
This prevents court rolls from collapsing. She said that the Regional Court, like the High Court, should have a budget to access acting magistrates as well. She said that if this was allowed and acting magistrates could be appointed on a temporary basis, the backlog of 7000 cases could systematically be worked away.

Department of Correctional Services.
Ms Jabu Sishuba from the Department of Correctional Services looked at offender rehabilitation and their rights as well as the rights of victims.

Questions and comments
With regard to the rehabilitation programme was there any way of measuring what the rehabilitation success rate was?

Ms Sishuba said that this was in fact their biggest impediment as currently there was no way of measuring the success of the rehabilitation. She said that they were lobbying for after-care to try and assess whether there was re-offending. She said that for this purpose it would be necessary to work closely with communities. It was recognised that mechanisms were needed for evaluating the impact of the rehabilitation programmes.

An ANC member wanted to know in relation to serious offenders who perhaps serve life term sentences for rape and other crimes, what their diets were and what their living conditions were like, since she was concerned with the fact that some prisoners felt that prison conditions were better than their living conditions in their own homes.

An ANC member was concerned with the fact that some prisoners felt that prison conditions were better than their living conditions in their own homes.
She wanted to know, in relation to serious offenders, what their diets and living conditions were like.

Ms Sishuba said that the Constitution did not allow differentiated treatment for certain prisoners whose offences were graver than others.

The next member wanted to know what the nature of the rehabilitation was.
Secondly she wanted to know whether this rehabilitation applied to people who were out on bail.

Ms Sishuba said that rehabilitation involved treatment programmes to assist people with problem-solving and coping skills and to address their offending behavior and change attitudes and behavior. CBOs, NGOs and church groups were all involved in this treatment. Correctional Services was mandated to provide rehabilitation only for sentenced prisoners. There was no capacity to extend this to unsentenced prisoners or those out on bail.

The chairperson wanted to know the breakdown of crime offences for women.
Ms Sishuba said that that for "economic" crimes, there were 1003 sentenced prisoners and 477 unsentenced prisoners. She said that for aggressive crimes there were 1495 sentenced and 583 un-sentenced prisoners. For sexual crimes there were 13 sentenced and 19 un-sentenced prisoners. For narcotics, 273 sentenced and 72 unsentenced. In terms of other unspecified crimes there were 222 sentenced and 71 unsentenced. For sentenced prisoners there were 516 for assault, 326 for fraud, 12 for child abuse, 871 for murder.

The chairperson mentioned the work of CBOs such as POWA and others and wanted to know, if they were only based in Gauteng, how their rehabilitation work was integrated throughout the country.

A member of the delegation said that a plan of action was being worked on regarding implementation in all prisons around such integration and around the issues of violence against women.

The chairperson also raised the issue of the sentencing and treatment of women who kill their husbands as a result of years of violent abuse and provocation. She said that often in judgements this was not taken into account as a mitigating circumstance. She said that in the prisons there appeared to unequal treatment for male and female offenders.

Ms Sishuba said that the entire criminal justice system had to work together on this issue. She said that once Correctional Services received these women they were already sentenced and they had no say in the sentences. She said that in relation to the treatment they received, there existed the same counseling treatment.

The chairperson pointed out that in relation to training programmes dealing with gender issues, she hoped these were attended by all Correctional Services officials including top officials. She asked what progress had been made about changing the composition of the parole boards.

Ms Sishuba said that the new parole system has proposed that the parole boards should not only be people from correctional services but had to include other role player from the criminal justice system as well as people from the community. Since the new Correctional Services Act had not been promulgated, the new system could not be evaluated yet.

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