ATC090218: Report Oversight Activities (2004 - 2009)

Correctional Services

Overview Report of the Oversight Activities of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services (2004 - 2009)




1.         Introduction

The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services oversees the activities of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons (JIOP) which is charged with monitoring the treatment of offenders in prison. As a committee of the National Assembly (NA), the Committee comprised the following representatives from different political parties: Mr DV Bloem (Chairperson, ANC), Ms LS Chikunga(ANC), Mr MA Cele (ANC), Mr S Mahote (ANC), Ms W Ngwenya (ANC), Rev LJ Tolo (ANC), Inkosi ET Xolo (ANC), Mr J Selfe (DA), Ms S A Seaton (IFP), Mr H Cupido (ACDP) and Ms S Rajbally (MF).


The Committee has come to the end of its tenure, but there are still a number of issues that need further attention and follow-up when the incoming Committee commences its work in the 4th Parliament. This report serves as a brief overview of the Committee’s activities, successes and challenges, as well as those matters that need further attention and follow-up.


2.         Overview

The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services has since 2004 strived to be the best-performing parliamentary committee and has for instance contributed greatly to the improved health care systems at all centres in the country. The period under review was a very busy and challenging time for the Committee, who undertook 137 Committee meetings and 27 oversight visits. In addition, the Committee each year interrogated the DCS and the JIOP’s annual reports and budget.


The Committee met on Tuesdays and on every other Friday, often to receive briefings by the DCS and other stakeholders on matters of concern and interest. In line with the Constitutional requirements the Committee convened public hearings to involve the public and receive public comment, when it had to consider legislation, annual reports or financial statements. Members of the Committee regularly undertook their own visits to correctional centres, and the Committee, as long as its budget allowed, visited correctional centres, parole boards, and other sites that could assist in it performing its oversight function.


Towards the end of its tenure the Committee also formed part of the nationwide public hearings on the review of the criminal justice system. The DCS is on the receiving end of that system, and bears the brunt when that system does not function effectively and efficiently. The Committee hopes that a streamlined criminal justice system, supported by all the relevant departments and stakeholders, will ensure that only those inmates who pose a threat to society are incarcerated, and that the number of awaiting-trial detainees (ATDs) will be kept to the bear minimum. This would ensure that the DCS will be able to focus its energies on its core function: the rehabilitation and the correction of offending behaviour.


The Committee has generally functioned very well in terms of oversight but also as far as the working relationship between Members from different political parties: despite their different political homes the Committee never politicised issues related to the DCS. Where there were differences, those differences were due to all Members’ genuine concern for the DCS’ well-being.


Committee Members unanimously agreed that the Committee’s success and good working relationship with each other can, to a large extent, be ascribed to the leadership provided by its Chairperson, Mr Dennis Bloem. He led the Committee by example, always with fairness and respect, good humour and good judgement, giving all Members opportunity to voice their opinions and to be heard – true collective leadership. The Committee was chaired with a passionate and fearless dedication to the oversight of the DCS, and to holding the Department and its Executive Authority to account. This dedication inspired the Committee to greater heights, and it is its hope that the incoming Committee will benefit from similar leadership that will take it to even greater heights.


The Committee was fortunate to during its tenure build working relationships with a number of non-governmental organisations with interest in matters related to correctional services, including the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative (CSPRI), the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO) and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR). The Committee also always appreciated inputs from the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) which is a Chapter 9 institution supporting constitutional democracy and charged with, amongst others, promoting and protecting human rights.


3.         Achievements


3.1        Amendments to the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998

Through amendments to the above-mentioned legislation the Committee ensured that parole boards were strengthened by making provision for greater community and victim involvement.


3.2        Improvements in prison health care system

The Committee contributed greatly to the vast improvements that have been made in the way in which the health care at Pollsmoor Correctional Centre and other prisons is administered.


3.3               Cluster cooperation

The Committee initiated a joint visit with the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development and the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs to create awareness within the cluster of the impact ATDs had on correctional centres. The Committees visited Pollsmoor Correctional Centre in October 2007 and made recommendations that were sent to all governmental role-players.


3.4        Public awareness

The Committee has through its focussed oversight of the DCS created much public awareness around issues such as victim empowerment, prisoner rights, prisoner labour, reintegration and rehabilitation, parole and community corrections.


3.5        Review of the Criminal Justice System

The Committee participated in public hearings on the Review of the Criminal Justice that were held across the country from late November 2008 to January 2009. These hearings gave the cluster an opportunity to interact with communities around the weakness of the current system, and their hopes for the outcome of the review.


4.         Challenges


4.1   Relationship with the Executive Authority of the Department of Correctional Services

The Committee’s relationship with the entity and the department it oversees was generally very good. Unfortunately the relationship with the DCS’ Executive Authority was less so. The extent of the breakdown in the relationship between the Committee and that authority is starkly illustrated by the latter’s neglect to inform the Committee of the re-deployment of the former National Commissioner in November 2008.


The Committee regrets that the DCS’ Executive Authority had failed to inform the Committee of the redeployment of Mr V Petersen, let alone of the reasons for such a re-deployment. Mr Petersen was an experienced and knowledgeable DCS official, well-respected as its Accounting Officer and was also widely perceived as a “corruption buster”. His sudden re-deployment, amid a very public struggle with the Minister around administrative matters, came as a surprise to the Committee. Regrettably the Committee has also not been formally introduced to the new National Commissioner.


4.2   Department’s reporting/presentations

Despite the Parliamentary Rules and Constitutional provisions that govern the Committee’s oversight of the DCS it has at times been very difficult to obtain accurate information from its officials. Documentation for meetings is often received late, sometimes with insufficient and inaccurate information.


4.3   The funding of overseas study tours

Despite its efforts to go on an international study tour, the Committee failed to get approval due to lack of funding in the Consolidated Fund. International study tours provide parliamentary committees with valuable experience and knowledge of how their counterparts, as well as departments and entities in other countries performed their functions. Such information is a valuable resource in assisting the Committee in executing its function. During a meeting with the Manager of the Committee Section which is part of the Legislative and Oversight Division (LOD) on 5 June 2008 the Committee made clear that funds for such travel could not be administered on an ad hoc basis, but should be allocated in a manner that was fair to all committees. Funding should be properly managed and all committees should be treated fairly and funded equally.


The Committee feels aggrieved by the disadvantage it had suffered due to the unequal funding practices, and feels that Parliament should address the manner in which the funding is administered as a matter of urgency. In addition, it feels that the incoming Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services should enjoy priority in the next round of funding for international study tours.





5.         Matters to be followed up by the incoming Committee during the 4th Parliament:


5.1   Outsourcing: Nutrition services

Background: The DCS has stated that in its attempts to enhance outcomes, particularly in the area of rehabilitation, nutrition and security, it has had to contract out a major part of its work (See Committee minutes of 26 February 2008). In that same meeting then National Commissioner, Mr Petersen, acknowledged that increased outsourcing increases the opportunity for corruption. The Committee has on a number of occasions voiced its reservations regarding the outsourcing of services within the DCS, and the outsourcing of nutrition services has been of particular concern partly due to uncertainty as to its cost-effectiveness, but also due to uncertainty as to the awarding of the contract to BOSASA Operations.


The DCS has since 2004 awarded tenders totalling more than R1 billion to BOSASA Operations and its subsidiaries. The catering tender to provide "catering and training services" at the Durban-Westville, Pollsmoor, St Albans,Johannesburg, Pretoria, Modderbee and Krugersdorp prisons, was originally awarded to the company in May 2004 at R240-million per year.

The contract expired in July 2007 and was extended for a further 12 months. In the 26 February 2008 meeting mentioned above, the National Commissioner assured the Committee that the tender for the nutrition contract would be advertised before its expiry on 31 July 2008. Despite this assurance the contract was extended for a further 6 months until the finalisation of a new tender process chaired by Sibushini Moodley (CDC: Care and Development), and not Regional Commissioner Patrick Gillingham who had been closely linked to the extensions of the BOSASA contracts.


On 19 August 2008 the Committee held a meeting in which the nutritional contract was discussed extensively. The Department was requested to provide the Committee with specific information related to:


-          whether a feasibility study had been done to establish if outsourcing is the most cost-effective option. The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) requires that such a feasibility study be done. If it had not been done in this case, the reasons why the PFMA was flouted had to be provided;

-          why and how the 7 correctional centres were selected; and

-          the role the regional commissioner, Patrick Gillingham, played in the process.


Despite the undertaking by the officials present on that day, the DCS never provided the information. Despite the Committee’s concerns the DCS went ahead and awarded the tender to BOSASA Operations, the same company that held the contract previously. The finalisation of the process was never communicated to the Committee who learnt of the contract being awarded through the media. The Committee remains disturbed with the manner in which the matter was handled, and the incoming Committee should treat it as a priority.[1]


5.2   Public Private Partnership-prisons

Background: Shortly after 1994 the DCS signed contracts for two private prisons to be constructed so as to alleviate overcrowding. The contracts specified that the prisons would be financed and managed by a consortium of private companies. Mangaung private prison, accommodating 2 928 inmates, became operational in July 2001, while Kutama Sinthumule, accommodating 3 024 opened in February 2002. They are run on the principles of unit management, which ought to aid rehabilitation efforts. One of the main criticisms levelled against PPP prisons relates to their cost: because the standard of care offered by private prisons is entirely unmatched in the public sector, it is impossible to ascertain whether these prisons cost more than public prisons.


In 2002 a task team comprising representatives from National Treasury (NT), the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the DCS reviewed the existing two PPP prisons and found that:

-          proper procedures were not followed in the awarding of the contract and that no feasibility study had been done;

-          the contracts did not make allowance for costs escalations;

-          While prison privatisation may have a positive impact as far as reducing overcrowding, they perpetuate disparities between those incarcerated in private prisons under better conditions and those incarcerated in public prisons under appalling conditions.[2]


Taking into consideration the inordinate cost escalation, the government took the decision to halt any further plans to build prisons using the PPP financing model. That not withstanding the Minister of Correctional Services stated that the DCS would continue with the construction of five additional such prisons in Nigel, Klerksdorp, East London, Port Shepstone and Paarl.


5 Additional PPP prisons

The Committee has not been convinced of the feasibility of the financing model selected. Being responsible for approving the DCS’ budget the Committee has on numerous occasions stated that it is not convinced that the PPP financing model chosen was the best-suited one. The prisons should only be built using the most economical financing option. Despite the Committee’s reservations and despite the questions raised by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), the DCS has steadfastly continued with the procurement of the additional prisons which after a 15-year period will cost the Department R23,8 billion (not taking into account the rise in inflation each year). The Committee has not agreed to their procurement.


Mangaung and Kutama Sinthumule

These two prisons are maximum-security adult male prisons. The Committee strongly recommends that the DCS consider converting them to dedicated juvenile facilities. Young offenders will benefit much more from the rehabilitation and reintegration programmes offered at these centres. In a meeting held on 3 June 2008 the management of these centres agreed that although the DCS has not raised this matter with them, they would be open to such discussion.[3]



5.3        Kimberley new generation correctional centre

The Committee raised a number of concerns during its 6 May 2008 oversight visit to the site of this prison. Of particular concern was that a large portion of the land that had been procured, at great expense, was not being used, nor are there any plans to use it in the future. The Committee recommended that should the land be arable, it must be used for agricultural activity. The Committee is awaiting the DCS’ feedback.[4]


5.4        Unresolved investigations

The Committee and the DCS have had a number of meetings on the progress made in investigations into certain security incidents at correctional centres. Feedback remained sketchy and unsatisfactory. Updates were requested and satisfactory information was seldom, if ever, received. The following cases must be followed up as a matter of urgency:


-          The Groote Schuur-incident (14 March 2005)

On 14 March 2005 Emergency Support Team (EST) members took awaiting-trial detainee Mr Lunga Luke to Groote Schuur hospital. At the hospital the EST members were confronted by unknown assailants. In the confrontation that followed Mr M Hendricks was wounded, and Mr Horn, an EST member, was critically injured. Mr Luke had on 30 October the previous year escaped from police custody and it is believed that the Groote Schuur incident was another attempted escape. There is a civil claim related to the incident and the criminal investigation against Mr Luke was still outstanding on 22 August 2008.


-          The Ananeas Mathe escape (November 2006)

Mr Ananeas Mathe, a Mozambican national escaped from C-Max Correctional Centre in November 2006. He has allegedly received military training abroad and was part of crime syndicates that were still operating. He had previously been held in police custody from which he had also escaped, and upon his re-arrest the courts ruled that he posed a big enough security risk to be incarcerated at C-Max.


The Committee, following various interactions and meetings on the escape, as well as its own inspection of C-Max, was not satisfied with the reports given by the DCS officials or with the report of the Investigative Task Team. The Committee is of the opinion that important information had been withheld.


-          The killing of inmates at Krugersdorp Correctional Centre (17 April 2007)

On 17 April 2007 four inmates at the Krugersdorp Correctional Centre were seriously injured in the DCS’ efforts to intervene in an apparent gang-fight. Three of the inmates died shortly after being admitted to hospital. Six warders were arrested and later released on bail. In a meeting on 17 November 2007 the former National Commissioner reported that officials implicated have been suspended and that at that time the cost of those suspensions stood atR559 814. At the time of that meeting the investigations into the matter still had not been concluded.


-          The escape of ATD Jean Claude Lacote (28 March 2008)

Mr Jean Claude Lacote, a foreign national awaiting trial at Johannesburg Medium A Correctional Centre, escaped from that centre on 28 March 2008. Two persons posing as members of the Soth African police Service (SAPS), submitted a SAP127 form at the correctional centre upon which authorisation was granted for the temporary release of the inmate to the care of the SAPS for further investigation. When the DCS realised that the inmate had not been returned to the centre an investigation was launched and it transpired that the two persons who collected the inmate could not be identified and were not SAPS members. The inmate’s release documents (SAP 127 and the identifying information of SAPS officials) were removed from DCS file at some point between the escape and 10 April 2008.


The investigation has been finalised and the process of appointing chairpersons and initiators for the disciplinary hearing has commenced. 11 officials will be subjected to disciplinary hearings. Charges include negligence, non-compliance, dereliction of duties and breach of security. The incoming Committee might want to be briefed on the outcomes of the disciplinary hearings.[5]


5.5               Suspensions

Background: In the 2006/07 financial year the DSC reported 483 suspensions at a cost of R9 794 001, 85. 325 of the officials were on suspension for more than 30 days. Although the cost remains high, it came down considerably from the R34 million reported in 2005/06. The DCS ascribes the sharp downward trend to increased efforts to address corruption and maladministration as well as the introduction of the Departmental Investigative Unit (DIU) in the 2004/05 financial year.


The Committee remains very concerned about the long suspensions of officials within the Department, and have had numerous meetings on the matter. These suspensions cost the Department, and the taxpayer, millions of rands, and send the wrong message to officials. Incidents involving alleged official-collusion should be investigated and concluded promptly, and decisive action should be taken against implicated officials. The Committee recommends that labour unions assist in resolving these matters as speedily as possible.


The high-level suspensions that took place in September 2008, and reported on by the then National; Commissioner on 21 October 2008, are of particular concern and the incoming Committee should request an update on progress made in the related investigations.[6]


5.6        Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD)

Background: Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council Resolution 1 of 2007 provides for the development and implementation of occupational dispensations for identified occupational categories. All occupational specific dispensations referred to in the resolution are applicable to the DCS and the DCS is responsible for developing OSDs for correctional officers. Paragraph 4. 14. 3. 4 of Resolution 1 pf 2007 states that from 1 July 2008 a revised salary structure had to have been implemented in respect of Correctional Officers. However in a Committee meeting on 27 May 2008 the Department reported that it would be unable to implement the OSD on the specified date.


The OSD will result in better salary packages and a better work environment for all DCS officials. The OSD for Correctional Officers was meant to have been implemented from 1 July 2008, but that did not happen. The DCS had agreed to provide the Committee with a time-frame for implementation, but to date that has also not yet been received. The DCS must give the reasons for the failure to implement timeously and must provide clarity on when implementation will occur, and how that process will be managed in terms of budget.[7]


5.7        Seven Day Establishment (7DE)

Background: In an effort to reduce per capita cost and ensure compliance with the service delivery imperatives contained in the White Paper on Corrections the DCS and Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU), the majority labour union, signed an agreement in 2005 in the Departmental Bargaining Chamber that would see the phased implementation of the 7DE. This resolution (Resolution 2 of 2005) will result in the phasing out of overtime: officials would get time off for work done on Saturdays, public holidays and double shifts worked. The saving made from phasing out weekend overtime will be used to fund the additional posts needed to successfully implement the 7DE. The 7DE and job refinement have been identified as a priority for the 2008/9 and 2010/11 financial year.


The Department maintains that the 7DE will have benefits in terms of service delivery and would result in certain cost savings. The incoming Committee should request further clarity on the reasons why the system has only been piloted at one prison that did not represent the situation at all correctional facilities in the country, and when the system will be rolled out to all centres.[8]



5.8        Vetting of officials

Background: In September 2007 the Minister approved the DCS’ Vetting Policy, and the Internal Vetting Fieldwork Unit was established on 1 November that same year.


The Committee remains most disturbed by the continued security breaches in the DCS as well as cases of corruption, fraud and serious maladministration. In the 2007/08 financial year 897 vetting and pre-employment screening forms were submitted to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). 523 were sent back to be rectified, and only 30 of the 344 eventually submitted were cleared. The 2006/07 to 2010/11 strategic plan does not stipulate exactly how many officials were to be vetted in 2007/08, but the 30 clearances received constitutes a sharp decline from the 290 received in the previous financial year.


The Committee recommends that the incoming Committee requests the DCS to provide an update on its vetting capacity, its vetting targets for the next financial year as well as a timeframe for ensuring the vetting of all officials.[9]


5.10      Vacancies

Background: Despite the DCS’ 2007/08 target to reduce its vacancy rate to 5%, that rate in fact increased from 8% to 11,3%. Of the 45 857 posts within the Department, only 40 620 are filled. The Care (26,7% vacancy rate),Development (22,6% vacancy rate) and Administration (18.9% vacancy rate) programmes show the highest vacancy rates.


The DCS’ ability to implement the White Paper on Corrections is hampered by the ever-increasing vacancy rate especially in the programmes mentioned above. Numerous meetings have been held on the DCS’ efforts to reduce the vacancy rate, and the Committee recommends that the incoming Committee continue to keep a close eye on developments in that regard.[10]




5.11      Critical skill shortage

Background: The DCS has for a long period of time struggled with filling critical posts by psychologists, medical practitioners, social workers, educationists etc. In 2007/08 the vacancy rate for psychologists and vocational councillors stood at 70,7%. The DCS has most often claimed these and other skilled professionals were lost due to the better salaries offered in other departments, the private sector and abroad. It is hoped that the OSD will assist the DCS in recruiting and retaining skills.


The Committee recommends that the incoming Committee request regular updates from the DCS on its strategy for recruiting and retaining such skills. Feedback should also be given on the impact the implementation of the OSD has had on such efforts.[11]


5.12      Parole

Background: According to the DCS’ 2007/08 Annual Report 46 Vice Chairpersons and 4 Chairpersons of parole boards were appointed in the year under review. The Annual Report unfortunately provides no explanation as to why the remaining Vice Chairperson and Chairperson positions have not been filled. The report also indicates that 8 correctional supervision and parole board offices were completed, while 23 are under construction and 21 are being planned.


The Committee remains concerned that despite the appointments made and the offices built the effective functioning of the parole boards is still hampered by lack of capacity. In addition, victims are still not adequately involved in the process. Despite legislative provisions, many are not consulted with or invited to parole hearings.


The incoming Committee should request the DCS to provide a full update on progress made in matters related to the parole system specifically the empowerment of parole boards, and victim involvement.


The Committee was disturbed by reports that some offenders were paroled long before they were eligible, and requested feedback from the DCS. Such feedback was not received and the incoming Committee should follow the matter up. It is vital that the public trust that the parole system works, and that it is fair. They must be assured that parole does not represent a shortened sentence and that it is governed by certain laws, regulations and requirements that are not open to abuse.[12]


5.13      Medical Parole

Background: The JIOP reported that in 2007/08 the DCS reported 1 056 natural deaths, a decline from the 1 249 reported the previous financial year. This decline is in line with the steady decline in natural deaths reported since 2004.Tthe JIOP in its latest Annual Report also suggests that a review of s79 of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998 which deals with medical parole be conducted.[13] In a meeting held on 12 August 2008, the DCS reported that releases on medical parole had decreased from 81 in 2006 /2007 to 50 in 2007/ 2008. A series of factors impact on how readily medical parole is granted: relatives’ willingness to take in their terminally ill family members, health services at correctional centres, recommendations from medical professionals.


The Committee held a series of meetings on medical parole in 2008 and feels very strongly that terminally-ill inmates who are in the last stages of life should be paroled for medical reasons so that they can die a conciliatory death in relative freedom, either with their loved ones or in hospices/half way homes. The Committee is of the opinion that should legislative amendments be necessary these should be thoroughly explored. Parliament should be provided with regular updates as to the DCS’ progress in making the system more workable.[14]


5.14      The incarceration framework

Background: In 2007 the Committee made a number of amendments to the incarceration framework. These included the insertion of a new provision referred to as the incarceration framework[15]. It provides that the National Council on Corrections (NCCS), in consultation with the National Commissioner must determine the minimum period sentenced offenders had to be incarcerated for before they can be considered for community corrections. They further have to develop a framework within which such minimum periods could be determined.


The Committee approved the amendments to the Correctional Services Act in June 2008, after rigorous deliberations. One of the amendments relates to the incarceration framework: the framework once completed by the NCCS and approved by the Minister, must be submitted to the Portfolio Committee for its approval. Only once the Committee has approved the framework can the regulations that will enact it be made. The Committee has made numerous attempts to convene a meeting with the DCS to consider the framework, but has had no success whatsoever, and feels that should its term come to an end before the framework is approved, the incoming Committee must treat it as a matter of urgency.


5.15      Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons

The JIOP is an independent body that monitors and reports on the treatment of offenders in prison. The nature of its work demands independence from the DCS whose work it monitors. Concerns have been raised about the extent to which the fact that its budget comes from that of the DCS, could possibly impact on that independence.


The Committee recommends that the incoming Committee should explore the possibility of National Treasury allocating a separate budget to the JIOP.[16]


5.16      Children in conflict with the law

Background: At the end of March 2008 there was a total of 1 691 children under the age of 18 in prisons across the country. Most of these children were between the ages of 16 and 17 and had committed violent crimes. According to the Department of Social Development (DSD) there are a 2 262 bed spaces available in the 31 secure-care centres across the country. In May 2008 only 1 585 of these spaces had been filled and the DCS confirmed that the centres are usually not fully utilised. The DSD plans to in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) procure a further 22 such centres.


On 10 June 2008 the Committee had had a landmark meeting with most of the major role players within government[17] as well as the NGO-sector[18] to discuss matters related to children who are in conflict with the law. All stakeholders agreed that children should not be in prison but should be accommodated in secure care centres, or wherever possible released to the care of the parents or guardians. The conditions in prisons are not conducive to correcting the behaviour of child offenders, and incarceration often does them more harm than good.


The Committee recommends that the incoming Committee

-          investigate the under-utilisation of secure care centres;

-          closely monitor the inter-sectoral cooperation between the major stakeholders as far as protecting children’s rights; and

-          be briefed regularly on the progress made in the implementation of the Child Justice Act.[19]


5.17      Prison overcrowding

Background: South Africa’s prisons can accommodate 114 800 offenders. At the end of March 2008 there were 164 957 people incarcerated in prisons across the country. Only 113 178 of them were sentenced, and 52 662 were unsentenced i.e. awaiting trial. The latter had increased from 46 832 in the previous financial year. The DCS has no choice but to accommodate unsentenced inmates who cannot be released because no bail has been set, or because they cannot afford to pay the bail that has been set by the courts. It is agreed that ATDs are the major contributors to overcrowding. In its 2007/08 Annual Report the DCS indicated that it had earmarked 10 correctional centres across six regions for conversion to remand detention centres. These centres are: Pollsmoor (Western Cape), St Alban’s (Eastern Cape), Durban Westville and Pietermaritzburg (Kwazulu-Natal), Boksburg, Modderbee,Pretoria Local and Johannesburg Medium A (Gauteng), Grootvlei (Free State and Northern Cape) as well as Potchefstroom (Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West).


ATDs are the main contributors to prison overcrowding. The DCS can accommodate 25 000 unsentenced offenders, but at present that number is more than double, and growing annually. Overcrowding inhibits service delivery (i.e. rehabilitation programmes, health care) as well as the morale of officials. The Committee initiated a joint visit with the Portfolio Committee on Justice and the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs to Pollsmoor Correctional Centre in Cape Town that took place on 23 October 2007. This joint visit was aimed at creating awareness, among other committees in the cluster of the impact the high number of ATDs had on a prison. The Committee has in its tenure held a number of meetings with the DCS on overcrowding and recommendations on how to address the situation appear in almost all oversight reports.


It is clear that there is a need for cooperation between stakeholders especially the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJCD), the SAPS and the DCS. In fact Inspecting Judge Deon van Zyl in his introductory meeting with the Committee on 18 June 2008, made clear that without more alternative sentences from magistrates and judges prison overcrowding and its associated difficulties would not be addressed. Only those people who posed a threat to society should be in prison. Those who have committed minor offences should be diverted to community corrections.


The Committee has for some time been of the firm opinion that all ATDs should be removed from correctional centres, and thus fully supports the 2008 Cabinet decision that remand centres should be procured. The conversion of the above-mentioned centres should be treated as a matter of urgency and the incoming Committee should monitor that process closely.[20]




5.18      Prisoner privileges

The Committee has for a very long time been very concerned about the privileges inmates enjoyed. Though it will never condone the violation of anyone’s human rights it does feel that privileges in correctional centres ought to form part of a carefully structured and well-monitored reward system for good behaviour. The Committee accordingly tabled a list of amendments to the current privilege system.


The Committee is aware that the DCS is reviewing its privilege system. The Committee has however not been consulted, and feels that the incoming Committee should request the document under review, as well as any revisions that might already have been made.[21]


5.19      Prison Labour

The Committee feels strongly that the prison labour system ought to be reviewed and revived to suit South Africa’s present-day needs. Suitable inmates, who do not pose a security risk, should be organised into work teams that can work the land, clean and maintain community halls, parks, gardens, graveyards etc. The Committee feels that such work activities would not only put a halt to idleness, but would also relieve the burden overcrowding places on prison infrastructure. In addition communities would see that offenders are not merely languishing in prison, but are working to make amends to the communities they had committed their crimes in.[22]


5.20            Health care services within the DCS

Background: The DCS has faced a number of challenges as far as its delivery of health care services. These challenges include: shortage of professional staff e.g. nurses, medical doctors and psychologists, the supply and control of drugs, access to and availability of emergency equipment, record keeping and the state of hospitals. Needless to say overcrowding and the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic have exacerbated these challenges. In its 2007/08 Annual Report the JIOP states that “the condition of health care facilities and the nature of the health services available to prisoners at the various prisons differ significantly”.[23] The report lists 17 correctional centres that did not have any nursing staff.


The Committee recommends that the incoming Committee investigate and establish the role the Department of Health (DOH), as the custodian of health care services in the country, plays in health care services rendered by the DCS. The role of the medical and nursing councils in ensuring the quality health services within the DCS should also be established. The DOH must also conduct regular inspections of DCS hospitals and health services. The Committee further recommends that the incoming Committee undertake unannounced visits to those centres where health services are particularly problematic and that recommendations are diligently followed-up. This approach has proved successful for the outgoing Committee in its interventions at Pollsmoor Correctional Centre in the Western Cape.


5.21            Audit qualification

Background: The DCS has a received qualified audit reports every year since 2004. The lack of internal controls within the DCS is a persistent weakness and relates to record keeping mainly in the supply chain management process. Further weaknesses relate to failure to implement SCOPA resolutions, failure to correct weaknesses identified by the Auditor General (AG), and non-compliance with applicable legislation such as the Correctional Services Act, and the PFMA.


Even though the DCS has managed to spend 97% of its 2007/08 the office of the Auditor General has identified weaknesses in the DCS’ financial systems and internal controls. The Department received a qualified audit opinion. The audit report raises the following concerns[24]:


-          An adjustment of R162 million was made to the opening balances of buildings and fixed structures, and an R805 million adjustment to the opening balance of machinery and equipment but the DCS provided insufficient evidence to support these adjustments  ;

-          No reconciliation was provided for the difference of R32 million between the R87 million spent on equipment and the R55 million reflected in the asset register;

-          No evidence of work in progress on buildings and other fixed structures amounting to R261 million;

-          buildings and other fixed assets amounting to R155 million were not included in the asset register;

-          the AG was unable to satisfy his audit process due to the unavailability of proper records on assets as required by PFMA s40(1)(a) and Treasury Regulation 17.2.3;

-          the audit process was further complicated by the DCS’ failure to implement external audit recommendations made in previous years; and

-          the DCS failed to implement SCOPA resolutions.


Should the DCS not correct the error to its opening balance, it will get yet another qualified audit report in the next financial year. The Committee recommends that the incoming Committee closely over see the DCS’ correction of weaknesses identified by the AG, as well as the DCS’ implementation of SCOPA resolutions.


5.22      The National Council on Corrections

Background: The NCCS was constituted in 1994 and in 2005 the new Council was appointed. Judge Siraj Desai is the current Chairperson and will end his 5 year term in 2010. Judges serving on the NCCS are appointed in consultation with the Chief Justice who normally receives recommendations from the Minister. In addition to the judiciary, SAPS, the DSD, penologists, psychologists, as well as representatives from the SAHRC and NICRO are represented on the current Council. The Council meets four times a year and can have more meetings depending on its workload. The NCCS’ principal task is to comment and advise on draft legislation and policy matters. The Minister must refer all policy matters to the NCCS for debate and advice. The Council’s function is purely advisory and its decisions are not binding.


Despite the fact that the relevant parliamentary committees must approve representatives to serve on the Council, the Committee has never been called upon to give such approvals. This raises concerns about the NCCS’ composition. It would be advisable for the incoming Committee to have an urgent meeting with the NCCS to be briefed on its functioning and composition.[25]


6.         Conclusion

The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services (2004-2009) is very proud of what it has achieved during its tenure. Many of these successes are listed at the beginning of this report. Had it had a better relationship with the DCS’ Executive Authority, many more of the Committee’s recommendations might have been implemented, and the DCS and the Committee might have forged a much stronger and much more productive working relationship. Knowing the enormous challenges faced by the DCS the Committee never expected to in 5 years see them completely eradicated. It had hoped however that some challenges could be eradicated and that others would at the very least have been minimised. The Committee’s aim has been to, through dedicated oversight, make its contribution to the DCS’ transformation. The Committee hopes that its successors will be able to draw on the more than 30 reports it has tabled before Parliament and that it will pursue the matters identified above.


Overcrowding remains a major challenge and impacts negatively on infrastructure, officials’ morale as well as any efforts to implement the rehabilitation imperatives contained in the White Paper on Corrections. Inter-sectoral cooperation will be key in lowering the number of sentenced and unsentenced offenders: alternative sentencing should be vigorously pursued and promoted, remand centres urgently procured and all children moved from prisons to secure-care centres. The OSD for correctional officers, once implemented, promises to assist the DCS in filing persistent critical and other vacancies and lowering its ever-increasing staff turnover, while the 7DE is said to streamline service delivery to inmates.


The Committee has been unrelenting in its efforts to hold the DCS to account and hopes that the incoming Committee will pick up where the outgoing Committee has left of, and improve in the areas where the latter has been less successful. The DCS’ persistent non-compliance with various principles of good governance, its outsourcing of nutritional services and its commitment to the PPP prisons, irrespective of the Committee’s and SCOPA’s disapproval thereof, are matters of grave concern and frustration partly because of their serious financial and security implications.


The Committee Secretary plays an important role in ensuring that outstanding information is received from departments and entities, and that recommendations are followed-up. He or she must play a pro-active role in this regard. Recommendations should be recorded and followed up within the timeframes agreed to by the Committee. Where it is not feasible to call a committee meeting to receive feedback, written responses should be requested.


In conclusion the Committee would like to express its appreciation for the support given to it and work well done by both its former committee secretary and researcher Ms Imogen Davids and Ms Nadia Dollie who served the Committee from 2004 to mid-2007, as well as the current committee secretary and researcher, Ms Cindy Balie and Mr Mpho Mathabathe, who have served the Committee since. The Committee wishes the incoming Committee success and courage in their oversight activities and hopes that this report will serve useful as the incoming Committee commences its oversight of the DCS.



[1] Related Committee  minutes: 2004 - 5 November; 2007: 19 June; 2008-19 August


[2] See ‘New Generation Prisons (PPP Model)’ – M Mathabathe (2008)

[3] Related Committee minutes: 2004- 13 August; 2005-21 June; 2006-1 February, 29 March, 2 May, 6 June, 10 August, 15 August; 2007- 22 May; 2008- 19 February, 3 June


[4] Related Committee minutes: 2005- 21 June; 2006- 2 May; 15 August, 2008- 19 February, 3 June


[5] Related Committee minutes: 2004- 9 November; 2005- 31 May, 10 August; 2006- 9 June; 2007- 23 January, 20 February,6 March, 5 June, 13 November; 2008- 13 May, 22 August


[6] Related Committee minutes: 2005- 7 June; 2008- 12, 26 February; 21 October

[7] Related Committee minutes : 2008- 27 May; 24 June


[8] Related Committee minutes: 2004-10 August; 2008- 24 June

[9] Related Committee minutes: 2007-5 June; 2008-13 May

[10] Related Committee minutes2005- 21 June; 4 November, 2008- 24 June

[11] Related Committee minutes: 2005- 21 June; 4 November, 2008- 24 June

[12] Related Committee minutes: 2005-21 June, 28 October; 2006-5 and 8 September

[13] See JIOP Annual Report 2007/2008, pp25-28

[14] Related Committee minutes2006-12 September; 2008- 29 July; 5 and 12 August

[15] See 2007 amendments to Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998

[16] Related Committee minutes: 2004-11 August; 2007-16 November; 2008-20 June

[17] The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the DCS, the Department of Social Development and the Legal Aid Board

[18] The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation

[19] Related Committee minutes: 2005-3 June; 2006-25 August; 2007-26 June; 2008-10 June


[20] Related Committee minutes – 2004: 7 and 10 September; 2005: 1 November

[21] Related Committee minutes – 2006; 29 August, 1 September; 2008: 18 June

[22] Related Committee minutes: 2007-12 June; 2008- 8 June

[23] JIOP Annual Report 2007/2008, p19

[24] See M Mathabthe: “Summary and Analysis of the 2007/08 Annual Report of the Department of Correctional Services”, Annexure A

[25] Related Committee minutes: 2005-30 August


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