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CORRECTIONAL SERVICES PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 May 2001
PRESENTATION BY MINISTRY OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: DEVELOPMENT OF A WHITE PAPER ON CORRECTIONAL SERVICES;
Chairperson: Mr N B Fihla
CORRECTIONAL SERVICES PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Development of a White Paper on Correctional Services
The Department presented its plan to develop a new White Paper on Correctional Services eliciting concern from members that the previous White Paper was to be completely scrapped. There was however, unanimous agreement on the process of developing a new White Paper reviewing policy.
The issue of Allan Boesak's parole however, dominated the agenda as it was felt by members of the ANC that Boesak had been unfairly denied parole, and even that the Department of Justice was behind a plan to prevent Mr Boesak's release.
The Chair introduced the delegation from the Ministry of Correctional Services:
Alfred Tsetsane- Director in the Minister's office
Watson Tshivase- Acting Commissioner
Thamba Rubushe- Deputy Commissioner: Communication
Mr M Nxele- Acting Provincial Commissioner
Mr r Mamabolo- Acting director: Communication.
Alfred Tsetsane presented the plan for a Development of a White Paper on Correctional Services (See Power point presentation)
The Chair said that plan incorporates wide-ranging policy and invited members to make comments and ask questions.
Ms J E Sosibe (ANC) said that it is unfortunate that this was the first time that such a plan had been presented to the Committee. She asked how involved other Departments were in the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) which involves a cluster of ministers. She said that it was important as the Department of Correctional Services has been highly affected by the problem of the South African Police Service and the Department of Justice.
Ms Sosibe said that there is already a White Paper that had formed the basis for the Act promulgated in 1998. She said that she was worried because the problems of the previous White Paper have not been identified and it seemed as if the Department was introducing a new policy without building on the previous White Paper as most of the sentiments expressed do not refer to the previous White Paper.
Mr D Bloem (ANC) echoed the concern expressed by Ms Sosibe. He said that the old White Paper should be reviewed, before a new one developed, particularly as there is great cost involved in implementing a whole new White Paper.
Mr S Nzimela (UDM) said that the 1998 Act was a product of the previous White Paper and therefore that the new White Paper must be an in-depth evaluation of the White Paper that informs current policy. He said that it is irresponsible to produce a new White Paper for the sake of it.
The Chair asked for the Minister's view on these concerns.
Mr Tsetsane said that this exercise intends to do exactly what the members are recommending and that the White Paper will evaluate the old White Paper. He said that the White Paper exercise is important for the introduction of policy. He said that the idea of the White Paper was for a systematic review of policy instead of dealing with issues in an ad hoc fashion. He said that the exercise intends to identify policy gaps and review other Acts that hinder the policies of the Department.
Ms Sosibe said that in this case the Department should say that the White Paper is being reviewed rather than developed as development entails starting from scratch.
Mr Nzimela added that the Department should produce a document entitled 'review and evaluation' so that the Committee knows what it is involved in.
The Chair reminded members that this presentation marked the beginning of a long process of discussion. He called for more comments.
There were none.
The Chair then asked the Committee, in the absence of further comments, if all supported the process being implemented. All agreed.
Mr Bloem raised the issue of Allan Boesak's parole and proposed that this be placed on the agenda of the Committee. He stressed that it was an urgent matter and that the Committee, as an oversight body, must listen to the public and probe allegations.
Ms J Durand (NNP) asked why Allan Boesak's parole was such an important issue and that if parole was to be discussed, it should be discussed in a general way.
Ms Seaton (IFP) said that the issue must be discussed within the Committee before the issue is formally raised with the Department.
The Chair released the Department and thanked them for the presentation. The Chair then announced that a reply had been received from the Chief Whip on the Committee's proposal that a delegation from the Committee visit New Zealand. The Chief Whip had said that the amount allocated for the trip, R153 438, exceeded the allowance of the Committee, R150 000. The Chair said that he felt that this issue should be appealed as the Committee had not gone on a trip since 1997.
Ms Seaton asked what size delegation had been proposed. The Chair replied that eight members would form the delegation.
Ms Sosibo proposed that the delegation be cut.
Ms P Cupido (DP) said that if the budgetary allowance for the whole year is only R150 000, then the Committee should plead to the chief whip as this is too little. She said that tea and food costs money and that if the trip was to go ahead, the Committee would not be able to eat.
Ms Seaton said that the trip is necessary as the Committee needs to investigate New Zealand's system of restorative justice.
Mr Bloem returned to the matter of Allan Boesak's parole. He said that he had been approached by members of the community and Mr Boesak's wife to raise the issue in the Committee. He said that the issue was also discussed in a study group the previous day.
Ms Seaton said that this issue has taken her by surprise and that something discussed in a study group should be raised with the Committee before going to the Department.
Ms Sobiso asserted that the ANC felt that this matter should be raised, and that they have a right to raise input and problems from the community.
Mr Durand said that the issue of Mr Boesak's parole will come up in the Department again soon. He said that if the Committee puts Mr Boesak in the public domain again, he will face further problems.
Mr A Maziya (ANC) said that these issues affect not just Mr Boesak, but other people in the country.
The Chair said that it is every committee members right to raise any issue they wish in this Committee and that issues must be raised here, before consulting the Department.
Mr Durand asked if the Committee was talking about Allan Boesak or parole generally.
Ms Seaton said that she would like to ask the ANC exactly what the problem is, regarding Mr Boesak.
Mr Maziya replied that Mr Boesak should have been released on 12 February. The allegation concerning the cell-phone however had clouded the issue of his parole. As the investigation was pending the incident should not have affected his release and a case should have been opened up and bail applied for as usual, without interfering with his present sentence.
Mr Durand said that parole is not a right but a privilege and advised members to study the Departments policy in these matters.
Mr Bloem replied that the Act states that the head of prison decides on parole, not the provincial or national commissioner. He said that other authorities are therefore preventing Boesak's release. He alleged that it is Frank Kahn and the Department of Justice who are behind the whole thing. He suggested that the Department of Correctional services should be given an opportunity to announce that they have no problem releasing Boesak. Mr Bloem said that every time the issue of parole comes up, the Department of Justice mentions the cell-phone, while the Department of Correctional Services says that Mr Boesak has been well-behaved. He said that he felt that the Department of Justice is stifling Mr Boesak's application for parole.
The Chair suggested that the issue be wound-up.
Mr Durand said that perhaps Mr Steve Tshwete should be called in to discuss the issue "as this was clearly another plot against the ANC".
Ms Sosibo angrily demanded that Mr Durand withdraw this statement.
Mr Durand replied that if his tongue-in-cheek statement offended members of the Committee, he would withdraw the statement. He said that he was concerned that such a humorous remark could cause offence.
Mr Nzimela said that situation seems to be a clear violation of Mr Boesak's rights and asked why Mr Boesak's lawyers have not approached the courts.
Mr Maziya said that it is possible that the financial obligations towards the legal fees could not be met.
Mr Bloem explained that this was the reason that he had been approached by the family as the Committee is more powerful than the lawyers. He said that as guardians of the Constitution, the Committee must ensure that the matter is put right.
The Chair said that he had a recently seen a BBC documentary on gangsters in Pollsmoor and said that he felt that the Committee should watch this.
A member noted that this documentary would be shown on Special Assignment the following Tuesday.
The Chair said that it would be informative to get the producers of the documentary to discuss their findings.
Mr Bloem asked when the Department would be asked to discuss the parole issue with the Department.
The Chair proposed that an urgent meeting be called for while the House was in session as it would be preferable to meet this week. All agreed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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