Department of Correctional Services Strategic Plan and budget 2008/9

NCOP Security and Justice

06 May 2008
Chairperson: Kgoshi L Mokoena (ANC, Limpopo)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed on the 2008-2103Strategic Plan and Budget of the Department of Correctional Services. The main strategic objectives included enhancing safety and security, the 7-day establishment, infrastructure development and better financial compliance. A breakdown of each of the programmes was given. Under administration, the Department aimed to improve service and correct deficiencies, reduce the vacancy rate, implement new organisational structures, improve performance management systems and reduce the turn around time. In respect of Security, the measurable objective would be to prevent participation in criminal activities, escapes, assaults, unnatural deaths and ensure compliance with policies, procedures, standards and legislation. Corrections would address rehabilitation and ensure compliance with corrections policies, procedures and standards, while improving correctional centres. Development would provide needs based education skills and other development related programmes, to facilitate the re-integration of offenders into communities. Care objectives would be to ensure the personal well-being of incarcerated persons by providing needs-based services. Social Integration sought to provide needs-based programmes and services to offenders, to facilitate their social acceptance and effective re-integration into communities. The Department would review and align policy procedures and standards with the White Paper on Corrections, effective administration and effective implementation of Community Corrections systems. Facilities would support the Department and once again the emphasis was on compliance, and building and upgrading facilities. The budget allocations under each of the programmes was described. It was noted that there were increases over the next four financial years,  but that the budget overall would be stretched as a result of the need to address certain features. The budget for development was R397 million and the Department was trying to put rehabilitation of offenders at the centre of its activities. It was noted that in the forthcoming year the new 7-day establishment would be phased in, and the Department would finalise programmes relating to skills development. Cuts in the budget would result in challenges in implementation.

Members commented on the ever-increasing population of correctional centres and the reasons for overcrowding were examined, including the incarceration of awaiting-trial detainees. Members asked how the Department would address the high vacancy rate, what the rate was, access to primary health care, shortages of medical staff, social workers and psychologists, the recruitment policy and whether rural areas were being targeted for recruitment. Further questions addressed the vetting of applicants, the unfavourable report from the Auditor General, the inflation adjustments, the roll over of budget and how this would be spent. Members asked about the successes of applicants from recruitment agencies, what would be done with obsolete facilities, when the new correctional centres would be ready, problems with the parole boards, whether the Department assisted former inmates in finding work on their release and questions of security, particularly over weekends. The Department was asked about its relationship with other departments, the possibility of inmates engaging in gardening or other activities, the public private partnerships, education in the facilities, particularly for youths, and details of the 7-day establishment. The Committee called for medical aid contributions for former employees to be stopped.

Meeting report

 

Department of Correctional Services (DCS): Strategic Plan and Budget 2008 – 2013.
The Chairperson opened proceedings by commenting on the important work that was done by the Department.

Commission Vernon Petersen, National Commissioner, DCS apologized for the confusion regarding the actual date of the briefing, as well as the late distribution of the Strategic Plan. He noted that the Department would shortly appoint a new Parliamentary Liaison Officer to ensure that this did not happen again.

Comm Petersen, Ms Nadira Singh, Chief Financial Officer, DCS and Mr
Makubetse Sekhonyane,  Director: Strategic Planning, gave the presentation on the Strategic Plan 2008/2009. The strategic objectives, included enhancing safety and security, the 7-day establishment, infrastructure development and better financial compliance.

Comm Petersen said that the major measurable objective for security would be to prevent inmates, as well as DCS officials, from participating in criminal activities, by providing an environment that was safe and secure. The 7-day establishment, a new form of staffing as explained by him, would help in addressing the issue of Safety and Security within South African correctional centres.

Comm Petersen gave a breakdown of the Department’s plans for their Administration, Security, Corrections, Development, Care, Social Re-Integration and Facilities programmes (see attached document). The measurable objective for Administration would be to provide the administrative, management, financial, ICT, research, policy co-ordination and good governance support functions necessary for all service delivery by the Department and in support of the functions of the ministry. He highlighted what the performance indicators would be. The strategy for improving administration would be to correct identified deficiencies, reduce the vacancy rate, implement new function-oriented organisational structure, improve performance management systems and reduce the turn around time for filling vacancies.

Mr Sekhonyane said that the measurable objective for Security would be to prevent persons incarcerated from participating in criminal activities and escaping, by providing an environment that ensured the safety of all persons entrusted to the Department’s care as well as the safety of the public. Some of the main performance indicators would be the number of escapes per 10 000 inmates, the number of assaults per 10 000 inmates, the number of unnatural deaths per 10 000 inmates and the provision of access security at DCS facilities. The DCS strategy for security would be to ensure compliance with security policies, procedures, standards and applicable legislation. She also said that they would improve security management to improve the detention and working environments of inmates, staff, and service providers, and ultimately the public.

Comm Petersen said that the measurable objective for Corrections would be the need to address the specific rehabilitation needs of persons who had been sentenced to supervision, incarceration or parole, through regular assessment, and through providing needs-based correctional programmes to address all the elements associated with offending behaviour. Their strategy would include ensuring compliance with corrections policies, procedures, standards and applicable legislation. The DCS would also improve administration and management of correctional centres. He said that DCS would also provide quality assured correctional programmes with support from service providers.

With regard to Development, Mr Sekhonyane said that the objective would be to provide needs-based educational, skills and other development related programmes, to facilitate the re-integration of offenders into communities. The main focus of the DCS strategy would be to enhance compliance. It would improve education, sports, recreation, arts and culture levels of offenders and also enhance their opportunities for employment in partnership with external service providers.

The DCS objectives for Care would be to ensure the personal well-being of incarcerated persons by providing various needs-based services. Some of the performance indicators would be the percentage of offenders in needs-based care programmes, 100% access to primary health care for offenders with TB, Sexually transmitted infections, HIV and those on chronic medication. DCS would ensure 100% access to comprehensive HIV/AIDS programs and services for offenders. The main strategy for the implementation of these care programmes was compliance.

On the topic of Social Integration, the objective would be to provide needs-based programmes and services to offenders to facilitate their social acceptance and effective re-integration into communities. Performance indicators for this would include the percentage of offenders eligible for consideration for release on parole and the percentage of offenders participating in re-integration programmes. The DCS planned to achieve this by reviewing and aligning policy procedures and standards with the White Paper on Corrections, effective administration and effective implementation of Community Corrections systems.

The objective for Facilities would be to provide facilities to support the Department in its core functions of security, development, care and social re-integration. Performance indicators would include the number of beds in correctional centres, the number of correctional centres created and the increasing improvement and maintenance of correctional centres. The plan was to improve compliance, build and upgrade facilities, maintain facilities according to DCS policy and to provide leasehold office accommodation for all needs.

Ms Nadira Singh, Chief Financial Officer, DCS, gave the presentation on the budget allocation. Ms Singh said that there would be an increase in the budget from R2.8 billion up to R3.6billion respectively over the 2007/8 to 2010/11 financial years, mainly due to the allocation for the Master Information System Plan (MISP) project and the adjusted provision for an additional amount for accommodation charges. She explained that the decline in the Management Programme Administration sub-programme was due to the efficiency gains savings budget reduction applied by the National Treasury over the Medium Term Economic Framework (MTEF) period.

Ms Singh stated that the budget allocation for security would be R3.4 billion, rising to R4.4billion over the next four financial years. She said that this would be due to the improvement of security in correctional centres, additional allocation of personnel costs for the New Kimberley Correctional Centre and additional allocation for the implementation of the Public Service Collective Bargaining Council Resolution 1 of 2007, relating to overtime. She explained that the activities of the Security programme were labour intensive and as such the personnel budget accounted for approximately 91.7% of the budget allocated in this programme over the MTEF period.

The budget allocation for Corrections would steadily increase from R1.06 billion in the next financial year, to R1.2 billion in the 2010/11 financial year. Additional allocations were made to the baseline as a result of the implementation of the White Paper on Corrections. Another reason was the establishment of parole boards and correctional supervision. The allocation of a supervisory personnel budget also accounted for the growth of budget in this programme. The decline in budget from 2007/8 to 2008/9 was due to the funds shifted to the Programmes Development and Care to finance approved White Paper project implementation.

Ms Singh said that the budget allocation for Care would rise from R1.2 billion in 2007/08 to R1. 3 billion in 2008/9. The reasons would be the implementation of the three meal system per day, the provision of additional remuneration for Health Care workers and the progressive implementation of the comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme nationally.

The budget allocation for Development would be R397 million in 2008/9, mainly because the Department was trying to put rehabilitation of offenders at the centre of its activities, which included the training of offenders to ensure their skills and social development.

The budget allocation for social integration would be R386 million in 2008/9 and the allocation for facilities would be R1.7 billion, excluding the R513 million roll-over from the previous financial year.

In her presentation Ms Singh highlighted that the key cost drivers were personnel numbers, numbers of inmates (including awaiting trial detainees), supervision cases and parolees and the implementation of the White Paper projects. She also explained how the provision of the vacancy rate was calculated. She concluded her presentation by giving a breakdown of the State expenditure for the year to date. The graphs and statistics were available in the Estimates of National Expenditure document.

Comm Petersen remarked that the year 2008/09 would be a difficult one. This year was earmarked for the phasing in of the new 7 Day Establishment , after successful trials at the Johannesburg Medium C and Johannesburg Female centres. The significance of the 7 Day Establishment would see a re-organised shift system that would ensure that correctional officials were thoroughly rested and reinvigorated for work. This measure was also directed at allowing inmates the possibility of spending longer hours out of their cells.

He emphasised that 2008/2009 would also be a watershed year in that DCS would cement concrete programmes relating to skills development as well as allowing NGOs to operate longer hours within its correctional centres. This new system would also guarantee that inmates would receive their recommended three meals within the timeframes originally intended.

Comm Petersen stated that the DCS budget had been cut and this would result in challenges in implementation, but that the Department would do its best with what it received from the National Treasury.

Discussion
Mr J Le Roux (DA, Eastern Cape) thanked the DCS for their briefing, but commented on the ongoing over-population of South Africa correctional centres affecting all other planned programmes by the DCS. He noted that only R1.3 billion was allocated for the construction of new facilities, yet on the DCS priority list this was listed last.

The Commissioner replied that the priorities contained within the Strategic Plan were not given in any order of ranking, and that the DCS was doing its best to address this burning issue. At the moment South African correctional centres were acting as warehouses, and the DCS was doing its best to operate within international norms and guidelines.

One of the major contributions to overcrowding was the DCS having to assume responsibility for the incarceration of awaiting trial detainees. This decision was taken at parliamentary level, but there was the possibility of creating special centres for these detainees. The Commissioner hoped that the allocation of 24 000 extra bed spaces by 2010/2011 would contribute significantly in addressing this problem.

Mr Z Ntuli (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked how the DCS was planning to reduce the high rate of vacancies and why it was taking so long to solve this problem. He asked whether this was due to a lack of skills or the capacity within the DCS.

Comm Petersen replied that Members should be cognisant that posts needed to be created in an ever-growing environment within the DCS and that some of these new posts were vacant due to the ongoing construction of new correctional centres, which was not necessarily a bad thing. He added that the DCS had problems in attracting and retaining artisans due to the lucrative packages offered in the private sector.

Mr Worth asked what the vacancy rate was within the DCS.

Mr Sekhonyane said that the vacancy rate for professional staff was at 40 %, especially in the finance department, but that the overall vacancy rate stood at 10 %. This would be reduced to 7% when the new Kimberley Correctional Centre was inaugurated.

Ms F Nyanda (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked whether the DCS had any problems around access to primary health care in the correctional centres.

Comm Petersen responded that the DCS had problems in attracting and retaining medical professionals due to a lack of upward mobility within the Department, as well as lucrative packages offered by the private sector. He added that a meeting was held with the Department of Health to look at HIV/AIDS in correctional centres. At the moment prisoners had the right to full access to Anti-Retroviral treatment, but this was hampered in some correctional centres. The DCS was looking at a comprehensive plan to address this and all other health related issues.

The DCS was also experiencing a shortage of psychologists, who would rather want to work in the private sector due to a lack of upward mobility within the DCS. This had prompted the DCS to look at the possibility of creating a Centre of Expertise that would provide some sort of upward mobility for these most-needed professionals.

Mr N Mack (ANC: Western Cape) asked what the DCS’s recruitment policy was and whether rural areas were being targeted for recruitment. He mentioned that the South African Defence Force regularly made use of constituency offices for this purpose, and urged the DCS to do the same.

Comm Petersen replied that recruitment agencies had been tasked with this process as the Department could not cope with the volumes of applications, and that all eligible South Africans were asked to apply.

Mr D Worth ( DA, Free State ) commented on the lack of social workers within the DCS and said that non-governmental organisations seemed to be struggling to meet the demand.

The Commissioner replied that there was a need to adjust the level of service delivery within the DCS, hence psychologists were used to assist social workers.

Mr Mack asked whether the DCS had a system in place to vet applicants, as the DCS seemed to have problems with corrupt officials.

The Commissioner replied that a vetting unit had been established to vet applicants in partnership with the security and intelligence apparatus of the State. He said that screening and vetting would increase and that high risk areas had been identified, given the recent and much-publicised successful escape by inmates in Gauteng with the help of DCS officials.

Mr Worth noted that the DCS had received an unfavourable report from the Auditor General. He said that this was unacceptable and that the DCS should address this issue.

Ms Singh replied that everything was being done to ensure a favourable report from the AG. She stressed that there had been concerted efforts to address this problem, by streamlining the financial management of the Department as well as the creation of an Internal Audit Committee tasked with assessing and assisting the Department in reaching it goals. In addition, the DCS had been in consultation with the National Treasury who had also offered their expertise and help.

Mr Mack asked how the DCS calculated the percentage used for inflation adjustment.

Ms Singh replied that the initial percentage was pinned at 5%, but this changed to 6,1 % to bring it in line with guidelines issued by the National Treasury.

Mr Worth noted that there had been a roll-over of R513 million and asked why the DCS had a roll-over of its budget and what the DCS intended to spend it on.

The Commissioner noted that the roll-over was largely due to the Kimberley project running behind schedule, and that the money would be utilised for its intended purpose.

Mr Worth noted that it cost more money per day to house an inmate in a Public-Private Partnership facility than in a conventional facility.

The Commissioner said that he could only talk in general terms, as the critical criteria should be “Value for Money”. It was therefore not possible to give an accurate answer as none of the PPP facilities had official housing for their staff. Other factors such as salaries and the cost of the standard DCS uniform should also be taken into consideration.

Mr Worth asked whether the DCS was happy with the recruitment done by recruitment agencies and whether the problems with tenders relating to the DCS security systems had been sorted out.

The Commissioner said that government was never happy with the expenditure of large amounts of money. These recruitment agencies had received large volumes of applications for entry level positions and there had been mixed results.

Mr Le Roux asked what the DCS intended to do with obsolete correctional centres and whether they could be upgraded.

The Commissioner replied that South Africa had many old correctional centre buildings that should not have existed in the first place as they consisted mainly of iron and zinc. It would be better to totally disregard these facilities rather then to upgrade them at major financial expense. He added that the DCS would not do away with a facility if there was no need to do so, but that the DCS would continue to look at this with an open mind.

Mr Ntuli asked when the new Kimberley Correctional Centre would be up and running, as well as the dates of commencement of construction of the planned new centres.

The Commissioner replied that construction would commence in due course and that the Kimberley Centre would be in operation by early to mid 2009. The construction of the Kimberley building was hampered by many factors, such as the weather and salary negotiations. He added that there had been some problems with the Leeukop (Bryanston) site due to an environmental study that concluded that the DCS could not start construction there as the site was inhabited by a particular frog that could only be found in South Africa. In Limpopo, land was identified, but the plan was scrapped as the asking price for the land was too high.

Mr A Moseki ( ANC, North West) noted that government was erecting a brand new Correctional Centre in Kimberley, yet this was the only province not to have its own tertiary institution.

Comm Petersen said this was quite a tricky question, but that he agreed that the onus should be on educating South Africans, rather then housing them in “warehouses”: He noted that inmates were encouraged to further their studies.

Mr Moseki asked when the Zeerust Correctional Centre would be completed as there had been several postponements.

The Commissioner stated that the Zeerust project had been hampered by capacity problems, but that he would get back to Mr Moseki as soon as he have more information.

Mr Mack noted that there have been several organisational and institutional problems with the Parole Board. He asked what the financial implications were and who was responsible for its oversight.

The Commissioner replied that the oversight function was performed by the DCS, and that he did not have records with him at present to answer the question on finances, but that reports were submitted on a quarterly basis.

Mr Mack asked whether the DCS offered any assistance to former inmates in obtaining work. He stressed that many former inmates ended up back in correctional centres, due to not being given a chance when they looked for work.

Comm Petersen replied that this was a difficult question as Department of Social Development assumed responsibility for inmates once they were released. He noted that government decided on how spend its money, but that the DCS could do more to secure employment for former inmates. He mentioned that the DCS did use its influence to secure employment for former inmates on the Kimberley project. He added that maybe the DCS could consider attaching conditions around employment of former inmates in future tenders.

Mr Mack stated that the correctional facility in Beaufort West was built on a very dangerous spot, next to the N1. This has resulted in several cars and trucks crashing into the fence. He also noted that the facility in Prince Albert was an historical building, yet the building was in appalling condition. He asked whether it would be feasible to build a brand new and bigger centre.

The Commissioner noted that he had never visited these two centres, but would make arrangements for a visit to assess the claims made by Mr Mack. He did stress however, that a decision to build a new building was based on where the need was biggest and that the Prince Albert facility was deemed obsolete.

Mr Le Roux stated that the DCS was looking at a comprehensive plan to address security within correctional centres. He asked what the international norms were.

The Commissioner replied that there was no data available on international norms related to unnatural deaths and security in general. It was a concern of the DCS and the Inspecting Judge of Correctional centres could maybe furnish that information.

The Chairperson said that security was very lax in the centres over weekends and asked how frequently dangerous weapons were being confiscated and searches were being conducted.

The Commissioner replied that the DCS tried its utmost to ensure that security was not compromised, by having regular searches.

Mr Mack asked what the nature of the relationship was between the Department of Public Works and the DCS.

Comm Petersen replied that the DCS enjoyed a good relationship with the Department of Public Works, via its Deputy Commissioner for Facilities.

Mr Mack asked whether the DCS had a good relationship with the South African Police Service as well as the Department of Justice.

The Commissioner stated that the Department of Justice was engaged to look at the possibility of using existing legislation to reduce the amount of prisoners who had committed non-serious crimes. The Correctional Services Commission had several nationwide meetings with magistrates to look at alternative forms of punishment for lesser crimes.

Ms Nyanda noted that she found it difficult to believe that only 3,3 % of deaths occurring within correctional centres were due to unnatural causes.

Comm Petersen replied that the DCS was trying its best to curb the incidences of violence within its correctional centres, and that 3, 3 % was indeed the factual percentage.

Ms Nyanda said she was surprised to hear to hear that the DCS had problems in serving the required three meals per day and asked whether prisoners actually received three meals per day.

Comm Petersen replied that inmates were served three meals per day, but not necessarily within normal timeframes, due to organisational constraints. This was being addressed.

Mr D van der Merwe (DA, Northern Cape) said that the ground on which the Kimberley correctional centre was being built was suitable for gardening by inmates. He asked whether the DCS is considering this.

The Commissioner replied that the grounds did not leave much room for gardening, but that the DCS had built a new bakery and was looking at conducting more workshops.

Mr Le Roux mentioned that in Kirkwood there was a successful agricultural programme in place to keep inmates busy. He proposed that this be done at other centres as well.

Comm Petersen said that what was happening in Kirkwood should be a reflection of the good work conducted by the DCS. He noted that the important objective was to ensure that inmates kept out of trouble and were able to spend longer times out of their cells.

Ms Nyanda and Mr Ntuli asked whether the new centres would be administered by private companies.

The Commissioner replied that even though the DCS, through the PPP process, had obtained private partners this did not mean that these centres were or would be privatised. He noted that the State would continue to exercise control.

Mr Ntuli asked what the DCS intended to do about the allegations that educators are sometimes forced to do “guarding” work.

The Commissioner stated that this was not true and that educators were assisted by DCS officials at all times.

Mr Moseki asked what the 7-Day establishment would entail.

The Commissioner replied that more DCS officials would now work different shifts. They would no longer be able to access as much overtime, and this would assist the DCS in sorting out the organisational and institutional problems within its ranks. He added that since the 7 Day programme was piloted in Johannesburg, there had been no applications for sick leave, which had been a problem under the other arrangement. The only problem was that the shifts began very early, and that could create problems for those officials that were dependent on public transport. The DCS was looking at ways to solve this and asked for assistance from the Committee.

Ms Nyanda said that at a recent visit to the Durban Westville Correctional centre she was told that the facility was having problems with the lack of access of inmates to education.

The Commissioner replied that Durban Westville had a 100% matric pass rate amongst its inmates, which embarrassed local high schools. However, it was true that inmates, particularly the youth, were having problems in accessing formal education. He mentioned that the DCS was working with the Department of Social Services as well as the Department of Education to address this.

Mr Ntuli asked whether the DCS rehabilitation programmes were successful, given overpopulation, and what the DCS was doing to address this.

The Commissioner replied that this was an indictment on government as there were no clear directives as to how differences should be measured. He said that a lot of the good work accomplished in correctional facilities was being undone due to broken family relations, as well as the lack of employment opportunities that rehabilitated inmates faced once they were released.

Mr Mack asked what was being done to address the issue of women and their children in correctional centres, as well as juveniles.

The Commissioner replied that this was a very complex issue and that no PPP facilities were being earmarked to house women and juveniles. He mentioned that the conditions were normally better in female correctional centres. With regard to the juveniles, he said that the DCS was looking at different approaches, to adequately address the special needs of juvenile offenders.

The Chairperson raised his concern over allegations that some officials within the DCS were befitting from the outsourcing of recruitment to private companies.

The Commissioner replied that these allegations had been documented and would be investigated.

The Chairperson called on the DCS to ensure that medical contributions to former DCS staff were stopped.

The meeting was adjourned.

Audio

No related

Present

  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: