ATC171031: Report on the oversight visit by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, dated 31 October 2017
REPORT ON THE OVERSIGHT VISIT BY THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, dated 31 October 2017
1.1. The Committee visited the following Correctional Centres: East London, St Albans, Johannesburg and Kgoshi Mampuru II from 26 to 29 June.
1.2. The purpose of the visit was to monitor and oversee the conditions of incarceration in these centres, as part of the Committee’s oversight role and mandate.
1.3. The Committee was represented by Hon. M.S. Motshekga (ANC) (Chairperson); Hon. C. Pilane-Majake (ANC); Hon. T.B. Bongo (ANC); Hon. M.S.A. Maila (ANC); Hon. M.R.M. Mothapo (ANC); Hon. L.K.B. Mpumlwana (ANC); Hon. W Horn (DA); Hon. G Breytenbach (DA); Hon. S.N. Swart (ACDP); Hon. C.T. Msimang (IFP).
- East London Correctional Centre
- This facility is situated in East London in the Eastern Cape Region and is the only facility in the Eastern Cape Region that houses female offenders. The facility also has a Mother and Baby Unit. The Committee’s visit focused on monitoring the conditions of incarceration of female inmates in that facility.
2.2. St Albans Correctional Centre
- This facility is situated in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Region and has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. In 2014, the South African Human Rights Commission investigated reported cases of mass-beatings and torturing of inmates in this facility. More recently (December 2016), three inmates were left dead after violence broke out between inmates and warders. The Committee’s visit focused on monitoring the general conditions of incarceration and to understand the causes of violence and measures put in place by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) to address this.
- Johannesburg Correctional Centre
This facility is situated in Johannesburg in the Gauteng Region and is one of the so-called ‘Big Five’ correctional facilities in the country. This facility houses both sentenced and remand detainee inmates. Overcrowding is a major problem in this facility and reports indicate that in certain sections inmates sleep in corridors. The Committee focused on overcrowding at the remand detention facility and measures put in place by the JCPS Cluster to address this problem. The Committee also looked at the impact of the shift system given reports that staff shortages fueled violence in this facility.
- Kgoshi Mampuru II Correctional Centre
- This facility is situated in Pretoria Gauteng Region and is regarded as one of the ‘Big Five’ correctional centres in the country. Kgoshi Mampuru II houses both sentenced and remand detainee inmates including females and Pretoria C-Max is part of this facility. The Committee focused on the general conditions of incarceration, rehabilitation programmes, skills workshop, progress regarding renovations of C-Max Centre and the Integrated Inmate Management System (IIMS).
3. OVERVIEW OF MANAGEMENT AREA/CORRECTIONAL CENTRES
- East London Management Area
- The East London Management Area consists of four (4) Correctional Centers and two community corrections: East London Maximum; East London Remand; East London Female; Mdantsane; East London Community Corrections; and Mdantsane Community Corrections.
- The Management Area is the second biggest in the Eastern Cape region in terms of offender population, with 3916 inmates and an approved accommodation of 2278 inmates. This means that the Management Area is 72.34% overcrowded, with centres such as Mdantsane and East London Maximum 133.84% and 67.84% overcrowded, respectively.
- The Management Area has one revolving Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (CSPB) which services the four Correctional Centers. There are two Case Management Committees: one serves Mdantsane and the other, the Maximum, Remand & Female Centres.
- The Management Area has a financed post-establishment of 959 staff. At the time of the visit, 916 posts were filled and 42 vacant.
- The Management Area services the following Courts; East London, Mdantsane, Komga, Bisho High Court, Grahamstown High Court, Umtata High Court and Zwelitsha Magistrate Court.
- The Committee visited the East London Medium C, which is a dedicated female centre in the region incarcerating female sentenced offenders and remand detainees of East London and surrounding areas. The Centre accommodates all offenders with sentences of 24 months and above. Offenders with sentences of 0-24 months are incarcerated at Umtata Correctional Centre and Port Elizabeth Correctional Centre. Awaiting Trial Detainees of Umtata and Port Elizabeth are respectively incarcerated at Umtata and Port Elizabeth Correctional Centres.
- The Centre has an approved accommodation of 273 people and accommodated 300 people when the Committee visited. This represents a 9.89% overcrowding. 58 of the inmates were juveniles (under the age of 21) and youth (under the age of 26). The Centre had three pregnant inmates and seven babies who were born in the Centre since 2015. Programmes aimed at enhancing the wellbeing of babies and preparation for placement to foster care are offered to mothers who are incarcerated with their babies.
- Primary health care services are accessible to all inmates. A sessional doctor and dentist provide services to offenders and they visit on a weekly basis. Inmates are referred to Cecilia Makiwane Psychiatric Unit for psychiatric services. Hospital staff consists of an Operational Manager and two professional nurses. One HIV counsellor renders services on a daily basis from the NGO: TB/HIV CARE. The Centre also has a Social Worker and a psychologist who look after the needs of inmates. Eight spiritual workers and eight volunteers render spiritual services to inmates covering different denominations. Spiritual Workers also assist with rendering restorative justice programmes (which are compulsory for all sentenced offenders) and Victim Offender Dialogues (VODs).
- With regards to education and skills development programmes, 19 offenders are enrolled for the Adult Education and Training (AET) programme and six offenders are registered with UNISA. A number of inmates are enrolled for skills programmes that include computers, sewing and textile, and bricklaying.
- The Centre is facing a number of challenges including structural constraints occasioned by the fact that it is situated near the sea and this causes windows to rust fast, requiring constant renovations. The Centre was also not designed for female inmates. The visiting area is not conducive and a conference room is used as an alternative area for contact visits. There is a challenge of shortage of staff which impacts negatively on rendering some programmes. There is low staff morale due to lack of a promotions policy in the DCS. There is also limited telephone line in the Centre and lack of facilities to render educational programmes and library services. This impacts negatively on the Centre’s rehabilitation programmes.
- St Albans Management Area
- The Committee visited the St Albans Maximum Correctional Centre on 27 July 2017. The St Albans Management Area covers the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan and Sarah Baartman District Municipality. It is the biggest Management Area in the Eastern Cape region in terms of offender population. At the time of the Committee’s visit, it had a population of 5820 inmates against the approved accommodation of 4081, translating to overcrowding of 42.61%.
- For 2017/18, the Management Area has a budget of R487,8 million, of which more than half (R297 million) is allocated to the incarceration programme. It has a financed post-establishment of 1272 of which 121 are vacant.
- The St Albans Management Area consists of five correctional centres, which are St Albans Remand, Medium B, Maximum, Patensie, and Port Elizabeth, and two community corrections offices; Humansdorp and Port Elizabeth.
- The Hospital is located in Medium B Correctional Center and serves the entire management area. There is one (1) full time doctor, two (2) session doctors and a dentist. The area also has thirty-two (32) nurses serving the Centres. Each centre clinic has nurses that render Primary Health Care (PHC). The Pharmacy has three Pharmacists, one Pharmacist assistant and two community service pharmacists.
- The hospital is manned 24 hours a day. There are critically ill inmates in the hospital. The permanently employed doctor is available on standby to attend to these inmates.
- There is an Accredited Wellness Site (ARV) at Medium Correctional Centre with three professional nurses and this assists inmates who need medical care. Inmates who need consultation with a specialist doctor on the treatment of HIV and AIDS are referred to the site.
- The Maximum Correctional Centre had a population of 1682 against the approved accommodation for 1468 inmates, leading to 14,57% overcrowding.
- The Maximum Centre had a number of violent security incidents which led to the death of staff and inmates. On 26 December 2016, thirteen officials were injured, and some seriously, when a group of offenders attacked them. In this incident, 3 inmates were killed and many (26) injured. The high incidents of violence are attributed to the high rate of gangsterism, overcrowding, shortage of staff and mistrust between offenders and officials.
- There has also been a number of cases where officials of the DCS have been involved in corrupt activities such as bringing in contraband and illegal drugs and other unauthorised items such as cellphones.
- Gauteng Region/ Johannesburg Management Area
- The Johannesburg Management Area is within the Gauteng Region which covers the City of Tshwane (Kgoshi Mampuru II, Zonderwater, and Baviaanspoort Correctional Centres), City of Johannesburg (Johannesburg and Leeuwkop Correctional Centres), Mogale City (Krugersdorp Correctional Centre), Ekurhuleni (Modderbee (Nigel and Devon), and Boksburg Correctional Centres), and Sedibeng (Heidelberg Correctional Centres). All in all, the Gauteng Region has 26 Correctional Centres and the above 5 Management Areas, with a population of 36 293 offenders against the approved accommodation for 25 421 offenders (42.77% overcrowding).
- The Johannesburg Management Area consist of five (5) Centres. It has Johannesburg Medium A, which accommodates male remand detainees (juveniles and adults), Medium B which is an admissions centre and houses sentenced maximum and medium male offenders, Maximum (C-Max) which incarcerates maximum male offenders, a Female Correctional Centre which houses both remand and sentenced offenders (including those with little babies born at the centre), and Social Reintergration which administers probationers and parolees.
- The Johannesburg Management Area has 1 563 employees, 4 181 offenders and 4 249 remand detainees (8 430 inmates). 48 financed posts remained vacant but had been advertised. The Committee visited the Medium A, Medium B and Female Correctional Centres on 28 June 2017.
- The Medium A has approved accommodation of 2 630 and the unlock total was 4 108 inmates when the Committee visited (3 974 unsentenced inmates). This represents 56.20% overcrowding. The Medium B has approved accommodation of 1 339 inmates and the unlock total was 2 886 inmates on 28 June 2017, representing 115.53% overcrowding. The Female Centre has approved accommodation of 613 inmates and the unlock total was 965 (691 unsentenced) inmates on 26 June 2017, representing 57.42% overcrowding. The Centre also had 18 babies under the age of 2 years. In total, the Management Area has a total population of 8 430 inmates against the approved accommodation of 4 927- 71.10% overcrowded.
- Currently, there are 641 lifers in the Johannesburg Management Area and 167 of them have reached their minimum detention period in terms of the Van Wyk judgement. The area management said that Lifers will be distributed to other Management Areas based on available resources. All transfers were scheduled to take place by 31 July 2017.
- The Centre is experiencing a number of challenges relating to Lifers and these include: SAP 62 (Crime Description) and sentence remarks outstanding, management of victim participation, human resource capacity (psychologists and social workers), return of parole applications from NCCS with respect to skills development. A Lifers Intervention Task Team has been appointed to look into the challenges faced by Lifers in facilitating parole.
- The Centre is also experiencing a number of challenges relating to infrastructure. No major renovation has taken place in the area since the Management Area was built. This has resulted in a number of broken/leaking pipes; an ablution system that is over used due to overcrowding; lifts that are not working due to underground flooding and an old boiler system that fails to sustain daily steam for cooking and warm water for bathing. The Centre also has no proper classrooms for mainstream education.
- The Centre offers a range of health, psychological, spiritual care, education and social work services to inmates. Offenders and victims participate in restorative justice, VOM (Victim-Offender Mediation) and VOD (Victim-Offender Dialogue) programmes. Case Intervention Officials offer a range of programmes to inmates, targeting offending behaviour.
- The impact of the programmes include:
- 100% pass rate for AET students in Centre B for 2016
- 2 UNISA hubs established at Centre C and Female Centre
- Improved individual and social functioning of offenders
- Decreased suicide rates in centres with both psychologists and social workers
- Better adjustment of newly admitted offenders to correctional life
- Successful reintegration with families and communities
- Increase in number of offenders who get tested for HIV and 100% TB cure rate for sentenced offenders
- Moral regeneration and spiritual development of offenders.
- The Area is facing the following challenges and has proposed interventions to solve them:
Minimum Sentencing Act
Review of the Act
Overcrowding which puts pressure on the infrastructure
Review of strategies to reduce overcrowding and Minimum Sentencing Act
The infrastructure does not address the operations of the facility
24/7 hospital facilities
Releasing of foreigners to their countries of origin by the Department of Home Affairs
Transfer agreements with countries with high percentage of offenders serving sentences within our Correctional Centres
Retired Judge assisting with the consideration of the Lifer Profiles
- Kgoshi Mampuru II Management Area
- Kgoshi Mampuru II Management Area consists of the Local Remand Detention Centre: male remand detainees (juveniles and adults), Central Correctional Centre – admissions centre, sentenced maximum and medium male offenders, Odi Correctional Centre – sentenced medium male offenders, Atteridgeville Correctional Centre – sentenced medium male offenders serving sentences less than 5 years, Female Correctional Centre – all categories of female offenders (remand detainees and sentenced offenders), Community Corrections - all probationers and parolees.
- The Management Area has 2 136 employees, 5 353 offenders, 2 500 remand detainees (7 583) and 2 109 probationers and parolees.
- The C-Max is currently undergoing renovations and the project was intended to upgrade the facility to a high security facility and create additional 12 bed spaces. The initial contractor left the site on 15 December 2015 due to financial distress. A new contractor (Raubex) was appointed by the Department of Public Works and is on site as from 19 July 2016. The contract value of the project is R169 988 000. The expected completion date for the renovations is 18 July 2018 but the contractor indicated that the practical completion is 28 November 2018. The project was delayed due to slow electrical reticulation installations, late appointment of project manager, visits to the gallows and poor workmanship of the previous contractor.
- The Committee visited the Female Correctional Centre and the woodwork and electrical workshops. The Female Centre has approved accommodation of 166 but had an unlock population of 267 when the Committee visited. This represents 60.84% overcrowding. The Centre has 200 sentenced inmates and 67 remand detainees.
- The Management Area highlighted similar services rendered to inmates and challenges faced to those of the Johannesburg Management Area.
4. COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
- The Committee interacted with inmates, centre management and staff. All raised a number of concerns. From the interactions and tour of the facility, the Committee observed the following and makes some recommendations pertaining to such observations:
- East London
- The Committee notes the Centre’s total staff complement of 94 and a 3.1% vacancy rate at management level. The Committee also notes that the Centre management plans to attract 364 learners this year. The Committee urges the DCS to speed up the filling of these vacancies in order improve the management of the Centre and to mitigate against the high termination rates.
- The Committee notes that security operations are understaffed and access control is an issue at the Centre. There is a need for shelter at the gate since officials cannot stand in an open space in extreme weather conditions.
- The Committee notes concerns from officials and inmates that they have not received their uniforms for some time and they have not been provided with warm uniforms for winter, respectively. The Committee should be briefed by the DCS on measures put in place to procure staff uniforms and provide warm clothing for inmates. The Committee has always expressed a view that the DCS should be more self-sufficient and produce its own uniforms through its workshops. The Committee believes that the Department has got capacity to produce uniforms through the use of offender labour, which will also contribute to the skills development of inmates, rehabilitation and social reintegration.
- The Committee is of the view that the working environment in the Centre is unsafe as a result of a high vacancy rate. The Centre is also not equipped to deal with communicable diseases such as multi-drug resistant TB. This leaves officials and inmates exposed to diseases. The Committee urges the DCS to resolve the issue of vacancies and to capacitate the Centre to deal more effectively with health issues.
- The Committee is concerned about the seemingly unhealthy labour relations between staff and management. The Committee notes that the recognized labour unions were not given adequate notice of the Committee’s visit. Although the labour unions made a short presentation to the Committee, it was not enough to ventilate all the issues. The Committee requested and awaits a more in-depth input from them, as communicated with the union leadership, on the issues they raised.
- The Committee notes complaints by inmates who are incarcerated far from their families and their pleas for transfers, which they believe are not being attended to by the DCS. Some inmates complained that they were transferred to the facility without their consent. The Centre Management indicated that the Female Centre was under-utilized hence it accommodated people from other provinces. Transfer plans were also dependant on capacity of other regions to accommodate offenders. The Committee will request a detailed briefing on how the Department is handling the issues of transfers countrywide with a view of proposing workable solutions, where feasible.
- The Committee believes that there is a need to look at the transfer of sentenced foreign nationals to their home countries, where appropriate and taking into consideration international law and best practices. At the moment, South Africans can be released after serving a portion of their sentences but foreign nationals serving a sentence in South Africa are not benefiting from such and have to serve their full sentences. During the Budget Vote Report of 2017, the Committee recommended that the DCS should expedite its policies on this issue of foreign nationals serving sentences in South Africa.
- The Committee notes the concerns from inmates who indicated that they were willing to participate in restorative justice programmes, but were unsure if frank discussions in those programmes could lead to further charges being preferred against them. The Committee is of the view that the South African law and the Constitution is clear in this regard and prohibits double jeopardy. This means that no person can be tried twice for the same offence.
- St Albans
- The Committee believes that there is a need to revise the recruitment strategy of St. Albans to ensure that it responds to the needs of the Centre, particularly the Maximum facility. The labour unions expressed a need to have more males than females in this Centre, due to its volatility and proneness to violence. The Committee does not promote gender discrimination, but consideration should be given to this proposal given the volatility and violence in the Maximum facility.
- The Committee notes concerns from the Management of St. Albans that their powers to appoint staff have been suspended due to the government-wide cost-containment measures. As a result of this, they have had to seek permission before they could finalize appointments and that this contributes to delays in appointments and leads to the shortage of staff. The Committee urges the DCS to revisit its delegations of authority in order to mitigate against delays in appointments and the shortage of staff. The Committee is also of the view that the shift pattern will not work in the absence of a sufficient work force.
- The Committee notes the lack of trust between inmates and management in St. Albans Maximum Centre. The Committee was briefed about initiatives by the Minister and the Deputy Minister to resolve this volatile situation in St. Albans. The Committee requests an update on this intervention in the next quarterly briefing of the DCS.
- The Committee notes there are contradictions between the inmates and management regarding the availability of rehabilitation programmes and skills training. On the one hand, inmates complained of lack of rehabilitation programmes and skills development, while on the other hand, the Management of the Centre maintained that there were rehabilitation programmes in the Centre
- The Committee is concerned about the complaints of racism in the Eastern Cape Region. There are allegations that black inmates are transferred from East London to St Albans, but white inmates are not transferred to St Albans because “it is too dangerous” for them. If these allegations of racism are true, they are not keeping with the spirit of the law.
- The Committee notes complaints of lack of exercise for inmates as provided by law. Officials blamed this on the shortage of staff to supervise inmates. The Committee recommends that the DCS should fast-track the filling of vacancies so as to improve service delivery.
- The Committee notes complaints about lack of clothing, cleaning materials and toiletry at St. Albans. Inmates indicated that toiletries from outside were also not allowed into the Centre. The Maximum Centre has a bad smell of urine from the cells and there were complaints about lack of hot water and this was due to overcrowding in the Centre.
- The Committee is concerned about complaints of inmates that the money deposited by their next of kin in the Centre’s Money Account was untraceable or disappeared. The Committee recommends that the Money Account be audited.
There were also complaints about inmates’ missing belongings which are booked in when they are admitted as personal effects and cellphones. The Committee recommends an audit of this register and that steps are taken to ensure that personal effects do not disappear.
- The Committee notes that the Centre is in dire need for renovations. Almost every cell visited needed painting and the renovation of showers and toilets. The Centre was full of water due to leaking pipes and is a health hazard. There were also bones scattered all over and these could be used as weapons. The Committee is further concerned that there are no planned renovations, as per the Department of Public Works, due to funding challenges.
- The Committee notes allegations raised by inmates in the presence of the Management Area and Centre officials, which were not rebutted, that inmates were encouraged to commit violent acts of criminality such as stabbing other inmates or officials if they desired to be transferred to other Centres or Management Areas. The Committee urges the DCS to investigate this practice in order to confirm its veracity and take steps to deal with it.
- The Committee notes complaints from inmates that there were no rehabilitation programmes offered in the Centre and that this led to frustration and aggressive behaviour. It was alleged that the lack of programmes meant that some inmates could not move from Maximum to Medium Centres. Participation in the programmes was one of the factors considered when inmates had to move from Maximum to Medium security Centres. Newspapers and magazines were also not allowed in the centre.
- The Committee notes complaints about lack of adequate health care despite the fact that there is a hospital in the Centre. It is of concern that inmates allegedly have to wait for weeks before they can be taken to the hospital and to access medication, especially for those who are taking chronic medication. The Committee further notes that the shortage of staff has an impact on the provision of medical services.
- The Committee notes inmates’ appeal for relevant government departments such as Home Affairs, Social Development and the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services, to play their roles in correctional centres. It was pointed out that most inmates had no identity documents and therefore could not access certain services. Moreover, no counselling services were provided to inmates who witnessed the fatal violent incident of 26 December 2016 in which inmates lost their lives and some (including officials) were injured.
- The Committee feels that conditions at the Centre constitute gross human rights abuses. The situation was unacceptable and overcrowding was a contributing factor. The Committee noted complaints about delays in serving meals and the ever-increasing prices at the shop. In some instances, inmates were locked up for 24 hours a day and allowed out for their meals- they are served all three meals in one go.
- The Committee notes that rival gangs are kept in one quadrant facing off against each other. This fuelled violence in the Centre. The Committee observed that the Department was managing gangsterism rather than tackling it. The Committee recommends that the Department should have a proper plan to deal with gangsterism in the Centre.
- The Committee resolved to make this Centre its flagship project and will monitor developments in the Centre closely. The Committee recommends that the Department should address overcrowding as a matter of extreme urgency. The Committee also recommends that the Inspecting Judge should visit the Centre and assess conditions of incarceration as a matter of extreme urgency.
- The Committee notes and commends the Medium B for a low vacancy rate of 2%.
- The Committee notes complaints of lack of blankets and sponges to sleep on. When the Committee visited, sponges were being delivered to the Centre and was assured that they will be enough for all inmates.
- Inmates felt that the Centre was still a prison and not a correctional Centre. They indicated that there was no education and rehabilitation in the Centre. Sports facilities were also not sufficient. Soccer was the only sporting code available and it was run by individuals who were not even allowed to bring in sponsors. Inmates resorted to drugs and crime due to lack of activity and frustration.
- The Committee believes that there is a need for an effective strategy to deal with overcrowding in correctional centres. It was alleged that the number of people sent to correctional centres per day exceeded the number of people released. A number of parolees were sent back to correctional facilities for minor violations of their parole conditions and this contributed to overcrowding.
- Inmates complained that they were offered bread only for breakfast and requested that porridge should also be made available. Management indicated that the kitchen was going under renovations hence they served bread only for breakfast. Inmates also complained that some cooks were selling food meant for inmates.
- The issue of parole needs close consideration. Inmates indicated that they could not be released on parole simply because the complainants (victim of crime) do not want them outside. Some alleged that there were instances wherein officials did not verify their addresses leading to delays in their release on parole.
- The issue of criminal records remains a concern for many ex-offenders. Many struggle to find employment due to their criminal records and resorted to crime to earn a living.
- The Committee is concerned about the wellbeing of the 18 babies in the Centre. The Committee feels that the environment is not good for their psychological wellbeing and that they needed better facilities wherein they could be brought up.
- Kgoshi Mampuru II
- The Committee is impressed by the skills programme offered at the Centre. However, the workshops are under-utilised due to the shortage of artisans. This hampers the Department’s endeavour to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders. The Committee notes that the Centre also provided opportunities for members of the public and students from surrounding institutions of higher learning to complete their practical learning exercises. The Committee recommends that the Department prioritize the employment of artisans in this centre.
- The Committee is concerned about the ineffectiveness, fragmentation, data security and integrity of the Integrated Inmate Management System (IIMS). The Committee had an opportunity to watch live demonstration of the booking in of inmates who were coming back from Court. An official scanned a fingerprint of an inmate and the system returned details of a different inmate. The system also took too long to read fingerprints. The Management of the Centre indicated that they had an option of using an inmate’s registration number should the system malfunction. It was also indicated that some inmates filed-off their fingerprints to ensure that the system could not accurately read them. The Committee recommends that steps be taken to ensure the integrity of the data contained in the IIMS.
- The Committee notes complaints from inmates that some of them were found guilty of less serious crimes but their sentences were too heavy. This led to overcrowding in centres. It was suggested that the justice system should have a way of dealing with juveniles because incarcerating them was not a solution and correctional centres became crime learning facilities and a breeding ground of career criminals.
- There was a need to develop programmes aimed at dealing with crimes since not all people excelled academically. Inmates complained that people with less sentences did not participate in programmes and this left them with nothing to do. In such instances, inmates become frustrated and turn to crimes inside the Centre.
Report to be considered.
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