Minister Ronald Lamola embarked on a visit to Boksburg production workshops and Johannesburg Management Area on Saturday, 13 July 2019. The dual purpose of these visits was for the Minister to gain insight into the operations at the Boksburg workshops, and to witness first-hand the state of infrastructure where inmates are housed, and the impact of overcrowding in Johannesburg Management Area.
The departmental delegation was led by Chief Operations Commissioner Mandla Mkabela and acting Deputy Regional Commissioner of Gauteng Tlabo Thokolo. Area Commissioner Henny Makhubela said that Boksburg Production Workshop ranks as the largest in the department, and comprises of a steel workshop as well as woodwork, upholstery, textile and a bakery section. The Management Area also runs a vegetable garden.
Minister Lamola announced that engagements were taking place with the Department of Public Works and DCS to source furniture for other government departments from DCS production workshops. He further highlighted that the department must organise an exhibition to showcase to other government departments the products that are produced in the workshops. “My office is furnished by DCS and I will appeal to other ministers, members of executive councils (MECs) and mayors to utilise the services of the department. We have the capacity to help them,” said Minister Lamola. Boksburg production workshops are accredited and have an average annual turnover of R28 million, 20% of which comes from other government departments.
He said that Boksburg Production Workshops serve as an ideal benchmark for other management areas to emulate. He further emphasised the importance of rendering programmes that empower inmates with skills that can help them to become economically sustainable and productive members of society.
From Boksburg, the Minister proceeded to Johannesburg Management Area where he inspected the state of infrastructure at Correctional Centre B and visited some of the overcrowded cells. He also toured the female correctional centre which houses all categories of female offenders, including babies. The state of disrepair at Correctional Centre B includes the leaking of pipe shafts, dilapidated structure, water leaking from the walls, overflowing kitchen basement and overused ablution facilities. Area Commissioner Luckyboy Mathiba mentioned that overcrowding has resulted in disparities in the official/offender ratio and shortage of skills development educators. He said overcrowding has a ripple effect and has resulted in an increased number of assaults, inadequate security on admission and releases, lack of facilities to house high risk offenders separately, and ineffective searching on releases.
Mr Mkabela said the challenge of overcrowding can only be managed effectively if departments in the criminal justice cluster can stop operating in silos, and adopt an integrated planning approach.
The Minister used these impromptu visits, on the eve of the Department of Correctional Services Budget Vote on Wednesday, 17 July 2019, to highlight areas of excellence, but also to identify challenges faced by the department, in order to develop a comprehensive master plan to move the department forward.