Minister Michael Masutha spent the last two days before the New Year visiting Kimberley Correctional Centre in the Free State and Northern Cape, and Potchefstroom in the Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West region. This was his way of reinforcing solidarity and showing appreciation to correctional officials who remained on duty and worked tirelessly during the festive season. He also used the opportunity to meet with female offenders, especially mothers who gave birth while incarcerated. He visited Kimberley on Sunday, 30 December and Potchefstroom on 31 December 2018.
“On behalf of the people of South Africa, not just for the department, we thought let’s come and show solidarity to you, to let you know that we are aware that you are making sacrifices to keep South Africa safe and we appreciate it,” the Minister said.
Masutha interacted with senior managers and ordinary correctional officials during his visits. He said the department must take care of its human resources because corrections is labour intensive. He looked at general challenges that beset correctional centres such as overcrowding and inadequate staff.
Minister Masutha expressed his dissatisfaction with delays in filling vacant posts. He warned against corruption and nepotism in the appointments of new parole boards, scheduled to take place in February 2019. He further alluded that if it wasn’t for corruption, the department would be sitting with additional capacity notwithstanding natural attrition, people resigning, retiring and passing on.
Klerksdorp Management Area, under which Potchefstroom Correctional Centre resorts, has 660 staff, 36 vacancies and 3 823 offenders. It is 175.61% overcrowded.
Kimberley Management Area is not overcrowded (98.03% occupation rate) with 4 077 offenders although some centres in the management area are overcrowded.
Staff members raised a number of issues and Minister Masutha took the time to listen to them. Shortage of uniform, inadequate staff, shift patterns, ineffective promotion policy, accessibility of DCS buildings to persons living with disability and the lingering OSD issue were some of the concerns mentioned.
Chief Operations Commissioner Mandla Mkabela accompanied the Minister during the two days while National Commissioner Arthur Fraser joined them on the last day. Mkabela said management was planning to speed up the process of uniform supply through a tender process and courier services to distribute to all management areas. “We will soon send out a communication for sizes so that the correct sizes are ordered,” he said.