Public Private Partnership prisons at Mangaung and Kutama Sinthumule: Operations, challenges & successes

Correctional Services

02 June 2008
Chairperson: Mr D Bloem (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The new Public / Private Partnership correctional centres, Kutama Sinthumule and Mangaung, briefed the Committee on their facilities. Both facilities set out their history and structure, the way in which the days were organised, and indicated that they provided primary healthcare services, three meals per day, educational services, counselling, vocational training, and religious practices, all of which formed a vital part of the rehabilitation of inmates. They were bound by contractual obligations that were monitored by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). They were aligned according to the DCS’ white paper, and whenever there was a change in policy, such as the Occupation Specific Dispensation, the facilities were notified to adjust their policies. Both centres were active in the community, providing both outreach programmes as well as donations. The facilities were penalised if they were not in accordance with specifications set out by the Department.

Although the Committee was impressed with the correctional centres, they were concerned with the management structures and whether there were according to Black Economic Empowerment specifications. The Committee was convinced that the facilities could be better used for the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders rather that long term adult offenders. Most of the inmates in these centres were long term inmates and were too old to properly incorporate the skills acquired in the facilities back to their communities after release. The Committee would discuss this matter with the Department. 

Members also asked questions around the penalties imposed and the reasons, recruitment and training of officials, loss of staff to the Department of Correctional Services and other departments, the inmate workforce and its training, staff accommodation, the qualifications of nurses and the health facilities, the employment equity and allegations of fronting, medical and standard parole and the involvement of the facilities in this, the capacity of the facilities and the staffing ratios. The donations to the facility were questioned, as well as the community assistance given by the facilities. The costing was questioned, and it was explained that the amount for the contract had included the cost of the building. The problems around gangs were discussed.

Meeting report

Mangaung Correction Centre presentation
Mr Frikkie Venter, Managing Director: GSL Solutions, gave the introduction as well as the history of the Manguang Correctional Centre (MCC). He listed the challenges, which included delivery of the centre on time, on-budget delivery and ensuring the availability of policies and procedures. The employee, gender and disability profiles were given. A bar graph of the different offences, sentence types and age distribution in the MCC was given. The scope of their operations was listed. Measures that were being taken to ensure the safe custody of inmates, safe environment, decent conditions and meeting of inmates needs were tabled. In relation to addressing the inmates’ needs in a structured approach, it was explained that this included a structured day programme, inmate care and empowerment, education, vocational training, social work services, psychological services, activities and leisure, library services, industries and religious care. Other general information was also listed. Community involvement was well established. MCC listed its achievements and awards as well as remarks received by external visitors (see attached presentation for full details) .

Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre presentation
Mr Pieter Jordaan, Acting Manager Director: South African Custodial Management (SACM), tabled an organogram that indicated that structure of the Kensani Corrections and the GEO Group.

Mr Indiran Pillay, CEO, Correctional Services: Kensani Capital, gave a detailed explanation of this structure. 

Ms Louina le Roux, Assistant Director: Kensani Corrections Management, explained that inmates at the correctional service facilities were given a structured day programme. She gave specific examples. She also tabled the rehabilitation process.

Mr Pillay then detailed the programme delivery. He noted that Kutama Sinthumule maintained a safe and secure facility, and he explained what this would entail and how it was done (see attached presentation).

Mr Jordaan detailed the food and health services that were provided. Further clarification of the facility maintenance was provided. The contract history was given. Their achievements was listed both in the constructional and operational phase. The number of deaths in custody was given for the facility. The empowerment assistance and empowerment in employment were listed. The community outreach accomplishments were listed. Their challenges included maintaining contractual compliance, the CPI volatility and the outcome of the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) and public service salary adjustments.

Ms L Chikunga (ANC) asked how many times had each of the correctional centres been penalised.

Mr Venter replied that his facility had one penalty because of an escape in 2002. It had also been penalised for giving meals ten minutes late to inmates.

Mr Jordaan replied that Kutama had not received any penalties thus far, but that the government deducted some payment because of a late meal on one occasion.

Ms Chikunga asked how would the inmates afford to make phone calls.

Mr Venter replied that when an inmate was admitted into Mangaung all cash would be taken from them. It was placed in a trust for the inmate who could, electronically, transfer funds either to the shop or to an account for phone calls. However the inmate had to give a list of ten people that would have to be pre-approved to get phone calls.

Ms Chikunga asked how were the officials recruited and trained.

Mr Venter replied that GSL recruited and trained people themselves. The training was done at the correctional centre. There was no training college. They provided the training material, which was approved by UNISA. Although they trained at the facility, the trainees would not work alone until they were certified by Department of Correctional Services (DCS), and they were under supervision in the last part of their training. DSC could then approve the trainees and certify them as officials. He added that the workforce was obtained from the communities and were trained in intelligence and risk management.

Mr Jordaan replied that SACM also did provide training. They outsourced and hired some colleges if required.

Mr M Cele (ANC) asked for clarification on the inmate workforce and how they were trained.

Mr Jordaan replied that SACM did employ offenders. They assimilated them outside as best they could. If there was a work opportunity, it would be advertised on the notice board. They were not paid salaries, but instead received gratuities and incentives.

Ms Chikunga asked if they provided any accommodation.

Mr Venter replied that GSL did not have any staff accommodation. Their staffing levels were such that there were always staff on site to deal with any disturbances and emergencies.

Mr Jordaan replied that SACM did not provide staff accommodation.

Ms Chikunga asked what was the staff turnover.

Mr Venter replied that GSL had presently about 500 officials in their employ. Approximately three to five officials per month went into government employ. They were losing teachers, but many of their wardens were also professional teachers and that could be fed back into the system.

Mr Jordaan replied that SACM lost three to four staff members a month. Half of those employees lost were social workers.

The Chairperson wanted clarification on whether they had lost people to the private sector.

Mr Venter replied that the Department of Social Development (DSD) had created a security branch. This branch had recruited many of Mangaung’s intelligence officers and officials. Currently most of their losses of staff were to DSD and it seemed these staff were moving to better salaries.

Ms Chikunga wanted clarification on the number of nurses as well as the nurse to patient ratio.

Mr Jordaan replied that the 35 000 nursing encounters referred to in the Kutama presentation were in relation to inmates that had been seen by primary health care providers. There were three primary health care clinics.

Ms Chikunga noted that nothing was said about gender equality and asked how did the company meet the BEE requirements.

Mr Venter replied that GSL had done a lot over the years. For example they helped a woman expand her business by contracting the inmates’ garments to her. She had grown her business to the extent where she now had contracts for both Smileys and Foschini. GSL had struggled to get black women for managerial positions and had a developmental programme to fast track these staff into managerial positions. 36% of all promotions were women. In addition he would send a list regarding their management structure and gender equality

Mr Jordaan replied that SACM assisted both small and big companies. By contract they were required to have 90% black managers.

Mr Wandile Motlana, Group CEO: Kensani Capital, replied that there was an honour group set up by and specifically aimed at women.

Ms Chikunga asked how many prisoners were granted medical parole.

Mr Venter replied that government and the DCS made decisions on medical parole.

Mr Jordaan reiterated Mr Venter’s response. He added that there was reluctance from DCS to parole such prisoners because of the risk involved.

Ms Chikunga referred to the strict regiment that the inmates were on and noted that it reminded her of a Catholic school.

Mr Jordaan replied that it was a strict regime. There was a structure and routine.

Mr S Mahote (ANC) asked there were active parole boards.

Mr Venter replied that there was a parole board at the facility. The officials at the correctional centre did not have any authority. The parole board reported to a management committee in the DCS, and Manguang were only informed of the decision. Previously they had problems with the parole board. At times they would prescribe that an inmate would have to take, for instance, a life skills course before he could go on parole. That could take time, as it would depend on how in depth the course was. The parole board had in the past been inclined to say that all the professional assessment that was done should be ignored and that all that was needed was their recommendation. 

Mr Jordaan replied that Kutama did have a parole board.

Mr Mahote asked for the capacity of each of the correctional centres.

Mr Venter replied that the capacity of the Manguang Correctional Centre was 2 928. Initially during negotiations the opportunity to overcrowd was given, but government refused. He noted that in the presentation the number of inmates attending church was given as 4 600 and he explained that some would be going twice or more a week. The capacity of the facility did not change.

Mr Jordaan replied that the capacity at Kutama was 3024 at full capacity.

Mr Mahote asked whether their staff complement was sufficient for the number of inmates.

Mr Jordaan replied that the facility did not have the luxury to work on ratios and that the staff complement was sufficient. They worked on what needed to be done.

Mr Mahote asked how the deceased inmates referred to in the presentation had died.

Mr Jordaan replied that the inmates died of natural causes.

Mr Mahote asked where the donation of R150 000 came from.

Mr Jordaan replied that the money was not received from government. This came from a charity golf day that had sponsors.

Mr Cele asked how often were donations made by the facilities, and who made the determination of who should benefit.

Mr Venter replied that that GSL sat on a Community Trust. This community trust would advise them on who required donations. The facility would donate fruit and vegetables monthly, depending on the season.

Mr Jordaan replied that Kutama donated sporadically and in some instances it was planned. They made use of the local structures in the community and their prison director to determine who would benefit. They provided assistance rather than funds.

Mr Mahote asked if the gang strategy had changed or if it remained the same, since inmates changed and would adjust to the different conditions.

Mr E Xolo (ANC) asked how were the facilities coping with gangsterism in the correctional centres.

Mr Venter replied that the gang strategy had not changed. He agreed that the inmates changed. GSL had meetings where they revamped what needed to be done to address gangsterism. They needed to understand the reasoning behind joining a gang. In a normal gang society there would be an action that would spark further action from the warders. Inmates quickly realised what would spark a reaction from the warders and would change their behaviour accordingly. 

Rev L Tolo (ANC) mentioned that although the contract was for 25years, he wondered if the contractors would consider giving the government a discount, in view of the state of the economy.

Mr Venter replied that the amount asked included the price for the building. The Committee had gone through confidential processes regarding pricing for numerous reasons, and therefore he was unable to give pricing. The Department should be asked for pricing structures. In terms of the suggestion for a discount he said that there were certain set terms. As government was pressured in terms of the economy and inflation, so too was GSL pressurised to provided what the contract stipulated. If the conditions did not change then the price could not change either.

Mr Jordaan replied that risk transfer, value for money and affordability were the essential elements. The broader the Public / Private Partnerships (PPPs) were, the better the benefits for government. There were professionals that briefed the Committee on the issue. SACM did offer savings to the government and recently provided possible options for future cost savings. There was a possibility that there could be either increases or decreases in the prices.

Mr Motlana added that one of the major issues was to juxtapose the major private sector provision and the government provisions.

Mr J Selfe (DA) asked for the unit cost per inmate, and asked if the rate went up per rate of occupancy.

Mr Venter replied that a high rate of occupancy might have changed the unit costs. A change in the fluctuation of occupancy numbers may be an option but the price would change.

Mr Selfe asked whether the correctional centres had been utilised to their fullest extent. He felt that they could be of better use for juveniles. He asked whether there were any discussions between the companies and the government to do this.

Mr Venter replied that GSL were not in discussion with the Department regarding utilising the facilities for juveniles, but were open to such discussions. The design of the correctional centre was not totally conducive for juveniles. GSL would then have to look at how they would change the design and programmes. There were options, but the decision was with the Department.

Mr Jordaan replied that Kutama was not involved in any discussions.

Ms W Ngwenya (ANC) asked if the doctors were present at the correctional centres every day.

Mr Jordaan replied that the doctors were there every day and visited on weekends. He added that they were aligned with the Health and Safety Act. They had full time health and safety officers as well as a full time quality assurance officer. They used preventative measures.

Ms Ngwenya asked if the three meals a day were actually implemented.

Mr Venter replied that the three meals were literally three meals. Contractual obligations demanded that there be three meals. There was fourteen and a half hours between supper and breakfast, and a maximum of four and a half hours between each meal. The centre was not allowed, for example, to serve lunch and supper simultaneously. The three meals were spread out throughout the day as per the regulations. This was possible as their facility was open for twelve hours a day.

Mr Jordaan replied that the three meals at Kutuma were similarly exactly three meals.

Ms Ngwenya asked if there were programmes provided for the inmates when they were paroled or released.

The Chairperson wanted to know how were they able to monitor their successes through their programmes if they were not informed of re-arrests.

Mr Venter replied that Maungaung transferred the inmates six months before they were to be released, back to DCS, and as a result they could not track them, but they were not made aware of any re-arrests.

The Chairperson asked if there was any penalty invoked when DCS had to intervene during the public servant’s strike and assist Kutama.

Mr Jordaan replied that the government deducted a huge amount of revenue.

Mr Josiah Maako, Director: DCS, added that the way the system worked was that the Department would deduct a penalty from the monthly fee according to the contract. They also paid for related costs as well as unavailable bed space.

Ms Chikunga asked if there were measures in place to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Mr Venter replied that the facility provided condoms to consenting adults. If sexual intercourse had taken place without permission, ARVs were given to both the perpetrator and the victim.

Mr Jordaan replied that Kutama had programmes in place as well as voluntary testing and counselling.

Mr Chikunga asked if their measures of security violated in anyway the inmates’ right to privacy.

Mr Venter replied that in terms of the contract these did not violate privacy. At certain areas a pat down search would take place.

Mr Jordaan replied that they had imported a highly developed chair that could detect any metal objects without the need to have a physical search.

Ms Chikunga asked how their contractual obligation ensured compliance with the DCS.

Mr Venter replied that they did have a plan according to the DCS White Paper. If at any time the DCS decided the White Paper must change, the DCS had a process in place to inform and notify them.

Mr Maako added that the contract made provisions for review of the policy of the contractor. Whenever there were new developments the contractors were informed.

Ms Chikunga asked if victims of crime attended the indaba on their policy.

Mr Venter replied that although they had invited many victims’ groups to the indabas, none of them had attended.

Ms Ngwenya asked if there was a programme in place for women and their children.

Mr Venter replied that their correctional centres were only for adult males.

Bishop Tolo asked which category of nurses they employed.

Mr Venter replied that Mangaung subcontracted that service and were unaware of the level of the nurses. They were contracted to give primary healthcare.

Mr Jordaan replied that Kutama only used chief and senior professional nurses. In addition half of them were fully qualified for primary healthcare. They had also been aligned with Occupation Specific Dispensation.

Mr Mahote asked if the DCS was losing staff to the new correctional facilities.

Mr Venter replied that thus far GSL had only employed one psychologist from DCS. The psychologist remained for a month and moved on to the DSD. They had recently advertised for a post and many DCS officials had applied but none of them made it past the first round.

Mr Cele asked why the staff went back to the DCS for certification.

Mr Venter replied that they had a DCS approved curriculum that they followed. At the end of their training they provided documentary proof that the recruits had followed the curriculum.

Mr Jordaan replied that there were two categories of certification. In some cases the DCS not only certified staff but approved the appointment as well. The DCS were completely informed of their staff.

The Chairperson asked if there was any fronting, as the Committee had received a briefing for the Special Investigations Unit that suggested that there was fronting.

Mr Jordaan replied that there was no fronting.

Mr Xolo mentioned a court case, in which R1.2million was being claimed, that the DCS. It was alleged that, due to carelessness of the officials at the Durban / Westville prison. The officials placed a young man in a Medium-B prison, where the adult male offenders repeatedly sexually assaulted him. He asked how correctional centres could prevent such a situation.

Mr Venter replied that at the assessment centre the inmate would be assessed and such confusion should not occur. If an inmate asked to be moved to another cell, this was seen as suspicious because it might be related to criminal gang activity. There was also a separate section for the 21 to 25 age group.

Mr Jordaan replied that SACM had not had any claims but the risk was always there. The facility would separate prisoners for management purposes.

The Chairperson commented that the correctional centres could probably be better utilised for juveniles. The facilities had workshops and programmes that the DCS were unable to do. It was a waste of taxpayers’ money to teach skills to a 60 year old man instead of teaching a juvenile.  The Committee had already informed the DCS of their opinion. If the Committee had said that these facilities should be used for the incarceration of youth then it should be done. The Committee would engage the DCS on the matter. The Committee would have time to visit both facilities during recess. He added that the correctional centres should take the initiative when they wanted to inform the Committee on issues.

The meeting was adjourned.


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