A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON CORRECTIONAL SERVICES
27 May 1998
BRIEFING ON GANGSTERISM IN PRISON AND EDUCATION OF INMATES
Documents handed out:
Prison Gangs - Department of Correctional Services
Department of Correctional Services: Directorate Education and Training
Presentation By Director Of Community Corrections, Mr. Shlogwane
The purpose of the presentation was to inform the committee about gangsterism in prisons and what is being done to alleviate prisoner involvement in gangs. The Director started by giving the names of the gangs as well as their activity in prisons. The two ways in which the Department of Correctional Services deals with gang activity is by orientating new prisoners as to the disadvantages of joining a gang and by separating gang leaders and members. Mr. Shlongwane emphasised that legislation is needed and that future strategies would depend on the discussion of the Organised Crime Bill on 14 June 1998 and legislation which could result from this discussion. The Director then ended by quoting statistics of crimes in prison.
Questions by committee members:
1. What sustains the continuity of gangsterism?
2. Is the reason why gangsterism cannot be curbed because there is no legislation?
3. Are the identities of gang leaders known?
4. Does the definition of assault include rape?
5. A member wanted to know whether legislation banning gangsterism would be a human rights violation. Why could gangs not be handled internally with prisons creating a code of conduct.
Response to questions:
1. The Director answered that gangs made it difficult for members to resign and a member who removed a tattoo faced a death sentence.
2. It was the Director's feeling that because there was no legislation in place it was difficult to control gangsterism.
3. Gang leaders/ members are easy to identify but difficult to isolate because of community cells. The Director felt that single cells may help in curbing this problem.
4. Sodomy was included in the definition of assault.
5. There was no direct response to this question
The chairperson, Ms Hani, criticised the tone of the presentation as it was felt that the Director was siding with the gangsters rather than finding a way to combat gangsterism.
Continuing with questions of clarity, it was asked how many assaults were reported to the police and where gangsterism manifested itself, in maximum or medium security prisons. The Director answered that no statistics as to minor injuries were available only deaths and that gangsterism was present in both types of prisons.
Q] Is there a rehabilitation process in place?
A] The answer given was that there are various training programs in place - does not answer
Q] Could prisoners be protected if they want to resign.
A] Such prisoners could possibly be isolated or transferred.
Q] Are there no other solutions besides isolation or transfer.
A] Overcrowding was an obstacle to controlling gangsterism effectively. The Director said the C-Max prison could help.
• Sometimes the prisoners have nothing to do so recreation, education, training and work must be made compulsory.
• Youth younger than 23, no matter the crime, must be isolated because they are victimised.
• Hardened criminals and gangsters, especially the leaders, must be isolated.
• It was agreed that the Justice and Correctional Services committees should meet to come up with suggestions as to how to combat gangsterism.
Education And Training Presentation by Director V. Sibeko
The purpose of Mr. Sibeko's presentation was to inform the committee on the functioning and services of the Directorate of Education. It was a brief presentation outlining the services which the directorate provides, their capacity to provide the services and the results achieved. The main problem highlighted by Mr. Sibeko was infrastructure. Apparently structures to accommodate education and training do not facilitate the various programs. Another problem mentioned was human resources and again the presentation was very brief and lacking in substantive information.
Mr. Sibeko concluded by quickly looking at the budget of the directorate.
Questions by committee members:
The first question posed to the Director was whether prisoners who completed training and now have a specific skill could be released to work in the industry. Mr Sibeko responded that since the prisoner had broken the law, he had to pay for the crime whereas there were law-abiding members of the community who were skilled and could not find work. It could be seen as if a prisoner was receiving preferential treatment.
The next question was whether there was any community involvement in the programs. The committee was informed that teachers were sometimes employed from the community.
The chairperson then commented that it seemed as if the presentation was deliberately trying to hide information from the committee. This comment was in response to the way the budget was presented. She said the committee could not possibly know what the abbreviations in the presentation meant. The chairperson also wanted to know whether there was any co-ordination between the Department of Education and the Education Directorate. She referred to Britain where it was the responsibility of the Education Department to appoint teachers on a two year contract.
Mr. Sibeko then gave the committee the full names for the abbreviation. He said that S + S stood for Store and Stocks and that P + S stood for Professional and Special Services. Responding to the Chairperson's question regarding liaison with the Education Department, he answered that there was a time that books and text books came from the Education Department free of charge, but this was no longer the case.
• It was felt that the British experience is valuable and our prisons cannot have a situation where permanent prison personnel are educating the prisoners. Outsiders whom the prisoners can trust must be used.
• It was agreed that the portfolio committee dealing with education and the Correctional Services Committee should meet to discuss the issues.
Meeting was adjourned.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES
TO INFORM THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ABOUT GANGSTERISM IN PRISONS AND THE EFFORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES TO ALLEVIATE PRISONERS INVOLVEMENT IN GANGS.
Gangsterism is one of the major problems in our prisons. Prison gangs are almost as old as prisons. Each of these gangs has its own motives or convictions upon which its activities are based. The types of gangs currently found in our prisons are the following:
* Twenty-six gang
* Twenty-eight gang
* Big Fives
In conducting their activities with a view to fulfill their objectives, prison gangs become involve in a number of negative and dangerous activities. These activities include the following:
* Assault on both prisoners and members which sometimes result in death
* The use of drugs and dagga
The Department of Correctional Services endeavours to discourage or counteract the desire/motivation that prisoners might have to belong to gangs. The following measures are currently applied in a effort to curb the involvement of prisoners in gangs:
- Prisoners are informed/warned during admission. and on a regular basis thereafter about the disadvantages of gangsterism.
- Members are sensitized to keep a watchful eye for possible gang activities
- Separation of gang members/leaders if any gang activities are noticed
- Incidents relating to gang activities are investigated promptly and disciplinary steps are taken, or if necessary the matter is reported to South African Police Services for criminal investigations.
DISADVANTAGES OF GANGS
· Personnel are often intimidated by the gangs in order to get the opportunity to promote gangsterism.
· Members are eventually assaulted if it is noticed that they are the obstacles on their way.
· In the place where prisoners arc actively involved in gang activities, the normal functioning of the institution is disturbed.
· Prisoners are intimidated and forced to commit offences. For example, escape, assaults.
· Victimisation of prisoners who do not belong to gangs.
THE PROPOSED DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE BILL WITH REGARD TO ORGANISED CRIME
Minister of Justice requested the Institute of Security Studies during April 1998 to draw up a Organised Crime Bill which also deal with the issue of gangs.
At this stage no Bill exists and the Institute of Security Studies is in the process of drafting the proposed Bill.
A workshop was held on 8 May 1998 to discuss the implications of such a Bill . It was decided that further research was necessary including a look at Street gang Legislation in the USA in States such as Florida and California.
Some American Laws provide that under certain circumstances where a member of a criminal gang is aware of the fact that the gang is involved in ongoing criminal conduct, the membership of such gang can constitute a criminal offence.
The Department of correctional services has been invited to participate in the drafting of the Organised Crime Bill. The next workshop will be held on 12 June 1998 where the Department of Correctional Services will be part of the drafting of the Bill which may also deal with prison gangs.
The future further actions and strategies of the Department of Correctional Services with regard to prison gangs will depend on the outcome of the above-mentioned discussions and possible Legislation flowing from the discussions.
DEATHS AND ASSAULTS
The Departments efforts in combating gangsterism can restrict their influence but can never eliminate the problem.
If we are therefore serious about the fight against crime and gangsterism the time has come for the South African Police Service , DCS Department of Justice, politicians and other role-players to begin to change policing and create legislation to enable law enforcement and prosecuting agencies to combat gangsterism effectively.
PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE: DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: DIRECTORATE EDUCATION TRAINING
PURPOSE OF PRESENATION:
To inform the Portfolio Committee on the functioning and services of the Directorate Education and Training within the Department of Correctional Services and to create a supportive climate which will contribute to the strategic objectives.
· Literacy Training,
· Life Skills,
· Main Stream Education,
· Basic Occupational Skills Training,
· Vocational Training,
· Recreational Development,
· Entreprenuerial (business) Skills Training.
NCPS: FINANCED PROJECTS
Amounting to the total of R5,7 million:
· Establishment of two Computer Based Training centres (Malmesbury and Barberton),
· 14 training centres to provide Basic Occupational Skills-training,
· Purchasing of ABET lecture material.
Number of Educationist: 257
Number of vacancies: 43
Head Office Personnel: 5
Workshop - 8 centres: 700
Building - 7 centres: 1 700
Agriculture: 1 100
Workshops: 3 700
Agriculture: 4 400
Functional illiterate: 43 650
RESULTS ACHIEVED: 97/98
· Total of 2 540 prisoners was involved in Vocational Training Programme during 1997,
· Total of 6 902 successfully completed courses in Career-Directed Skills Training during 1997,
· An average of 28 380 participated in one of the various Informal Educational Programmes (recreation, choirs, etc)
· Total of 13 013 prisoners participated in Formal Education Programmes during 1997.
Process of establishing:
· Two Computer Based Training centres (Malmesbury and Barberton),
· 14 training centres to provide Basic Occupational Skills-training,
· As pilot project, to establish policy/ guidelines and directives with regard to the development of occupational skills and provision of training opportunities in community projects for our inmates, we have engaged in a project in Kwazulu/ Natal, building houses for the community.
BURNING ISSUES/ SOLUTIONS:
ABET (ADULT BASIC EDUCATION AND TRAINING): A need exists to accommodate 45% of the prison population in functional literacy skills and 35% of total illiterate inmates,
Experienced problems with tender procedure, has been dissolved, visualize utilizing own resources to present ABET in future.
INFRASTRUCTURE: Cost/ time to upgrade psychical infrastructure to accommodate Education and Training needs:
Current structures to accommodate inmates are not conducive to Education and Training Programmes, negotiations are under way with SAFMARINE to convert containers to be utilised as temporary structures and distributed nationwide.
We are at present operating at a member/ student ratio of 1:210 (education) and 1:235 (training) with regard to students participating, whilst when affirming the right to education as enshrined in article 26 of the universal Declaration of Human Rights the DCS would have to focus on literacy training resulting in a 1:250 ratio. We are utilizing Section 7 funds to assist in addressing the current situation.
Assessment and placement primarily takes place via the Institutional Committee whilst a need exist for an in-depth and comprehensive assessment as to establish the exact learning needs/ disabilities of inmates.
BUDGET ALLOCATION 98/99:
PERS: R41 687 000
ADMIN: R 2 343 000
S&S (ex): R 6 694 000
S&S (in): R 757 000
EQUIP (ex): R 3 797 000
EQUIP (in): R 145 000
P&S: R 623 000
MIS: R 582 000
TOTAL: 59 628 000
[Ed note: diagram to illustrate Education Budget vs. National Budget is not included].