Jali Commission Final Report: briefing on Implementation of Recommendations

Correctional Services

16 October 2006
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

17 October 2006

Mr D Bloem (ANC)

Documents Handed Out:
Department of Correctional Services (DCS) presentation
Implementation of Recommendations of Final Report of Jali Commission of Inquiry
Executive Summary of Jali Commission Report
Report: Naming and Shaming Campaign

The Committee was briefed by the Minister and the Deputy Commissioner on the implementation of the Jali Commission Final Report recommendations. The Committee was given an Executive Summary of the Jali Commission Report rather than the full Report. The Chairperson objected to this as he believed that this limited the Committee's ability to exercise its oversight role. Also the documents had been sent to the Committee very late on the previous day which had not permitted preparatory scrutiny by the Committee.

It was agreed that there would be a follow-up meeting on the matter.

Briefing by the Minister of Correctional Services
Mr Ngconde Balfour, Minister of Correctional Services, stated that the Department of Correctional Service (DCS) sought to build a secure and protected Correctional Service system. Victims of crime and the community at large need to be told that they were safe. There was overwhelming evidence that the issues of concern raised by the Jali Commission were reality. It needed to be acknowledged that the environment in Correctional Centres was improving. A decline of awaiting trial offenders over the past three years had been noticeable. The Department could not deal with issues alone thus, with the intensification of Operation Masibambisane [to enhance community involvement in the rehabilitation and social integration of offenders], the DCS was making progress in bringing other actors on board. The DCS would continue with its efforts of accelerating service delivery. However, it needed to be noted that, change in the DCS would not happen overnight. Making a reference to the Jali Commission Final Report, the Minister highlighted the fact that, certain sections of the report containing people’s names had not been published due to legal implications.

Presentation by Ms Jenny Schreiner (Deputy Commissioner)
An overview of the Jali Commission Final Report and the implementation of its recommendations was provided by the Deputy Commissioner. The Final Report was received by the presidential office in December 2005. The first section of the report dealt with the historical background of the DCS. The issue of trade unionism was included in the report. The Professional Association for Senior Management was being investigated by DPSA. Ministerial Labour Consultative Forums were established so that there would be an engagement with unions at least twice a year in order to ensure a common understanding of the strategic direction of the DCS.

Gangsterism in Correctional Centres had been one of the needs requiring effective strategy identified in the new White Paper. The move towards offender rehabilitation made provision for profiling of offenders. Involvement of DCS staff in gang activities had been noted in the report as a serious concern.  Recruitment and merit award irregularities were also highlighted by the Final Report. The policies relating to recruitment and merit award irregularities were in the process of being consolidated. Internal control measures were currently in place for proper management of merit awards. There was an auditing of the process which acted as a form of checks and balances. Correctional Centre security was very important thus installation of technology was part of Correctional Centre upgrading. The DCS staff were not only security personnel but they were also rehabilitators. Closed circuit TVs were introduced so as to reduce the number of escaping offenders.

In order to maintain the good treatment and detention of offenders in isolation and in C-Maximum, a new offender disciplinary code consistent with human rights and principles of natural justice had been established. Sexual violence against inmates had been highlighted in the report as being an issue that needed attention. It was recommended that the means for the separation of people who were vulnerable to sexual violence, ought to be in place.

Victim participation in the granting of parole to offenders was recognised as an important issue. Victims need to be involved in the processes thus there had been training of Parole Board Chairpersons on this. Additional restrictions had been placed only on medical parole. Overcrowding had been identified by the Commission as another challenge facing DCS. The approach to overcrowding as identified by the Minister in his 2004 Budget Speech was to be multi-dimensional and multi-departmental.  As the Commission requested, the DCS had not complied with the outsourcing of disciplinary procedures.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and the Deputy Commissioner for their presentations. In his personal capacity, he did not agree with the DCS providing only a summary of the Executive Summary of the Report. Having only a summary would make matters difficult for the Portfolio Committee to exercise its oversight role. It was the duty of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services to assist in the implementation of the Jali Commission recommendations but having view of only DCS's summary of the Executive Summary would make that difficult. It was the duty of the Committee as an oversight parliamentary structure to be well informed so as to participate in the debate. The Committee was at a disadvantage in engaging with the Report; there was a need for the comprehensive Report. If the Committee did not have the full details, it would be difficult for it to facilitate the implementation of the R7 million Jali Commission of Inquiry.

The Minister said that he would always respect the Chairperson and his personal opinion and judgements. Responding to the concerns raised by the Chairperson, the Minister said that the findings contained in the original Report had not been summarised or "distilled" from the Executive Summary of the Jali Commission Report. The findings of the Report were complete as they were, authored by the Commission not by the DSC, hence nothing had been distilled and summarised. In validating his position, the Minister then referred the Committee to Trade Unionism and Gangsterism on page 14 of the Executive Summary. It showed that the Executive Summary had been released on the instructions of the President without the names of those implicated in wrongdoing. A letter from the President permitting the Minister to release the section in the Jali Commission without the names of people implicated in wrongdoing was read by the Minister.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister for providing the meeting with the letter from President Mbeki. The Chairperson said that he did not think that the presentation would take the meeting very far; therefore the floor would not be open for debate.

Mr N Fihla (ANC) said that it unfortunate that the DCS was not able to give the Committee the documents in time and that was an irregularity. The late delivery of the Jali Commission recommendations and the comments by the Minister (received late on 16 October) were issues that the Committee had been dealing with over the past few years. There was nothing from the Jali Commission that the Committee could not deal with.

Mr M Suyedali-Shah (DA) wanted to ask a question but was called to order by the Chairperson because the floor was not open for questions.

Ms W Ngwenya (ANC) supported Mr Fihla and said that the Committee need to sit down and discuss the documents.

The Chairperson said that the meeting was not a waste of time, there would be a follow-up meeting to discuss the documents and take the process forward.

The meeting was adjourned.



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