Minister Ronald Lamola used his budget and policy speech to enjoin DCS management and staff to renew their commitment to deliver the best correctional services for a safer South Africa. The Minister made this call on the occasion of the departmental Budget Vote debate in Parliament on Wednesday, 17 July 2019. Undeterred by dissenting voices from opposition benches, the Minister affirmed that he has the political will to extract the department from various challenges it faces, and reposition it as a leading provider of quality and effective correctional services, which is keeping with the values and principles enshrined in “The Nelson Mandela Rules”. To this end, Minister Lamola announced that the department will today, (Monday, 22 July 2019), launch the training manual for the “The Nelson Mandela Rules”.
In pursuit of this vision, the Minister acknowledged that commendable progress has been recorded in transforming jails into correctional facilities that are geared towards successfully incarcerating, rehabilitating and reintegrating inmates back into their communities when they are released. He applauded the department’s community upliftment initiatives wherein officials and offenders partner in establishing food gardens for old age homes and impoverished communities, cleaning and maintenance of public infrastructure and partnering with external stakeholders to build homes for the poor, thereby restoring their human dignity. He also hailed the Hillsong Foundation for its partnership with the department to donate over 2 000 wheelchairs to disabled persons and the elderly.
Further, Minister Lamola conceded that the department continues to grapple with the challenge of overcrowded facilities, which stood at 37% as at 31 March 2019. To help lessen the burden on overpopulated facilities, the Minister mentioned that a number of infrastructure projects have been completed, with others nearing completion. Altogether, additional bed space capacity of 1 101 will be created when all major infrastructure projects are completed. The Standerton and Estcourt Correctional Centres have been completed and were officially opened in April and May 2019 respectively. The upgrade of C-Max Correctional Centre in Pretoria has also been completed, while the construction of Tzaneen Correctional Centre is nearing completion.
He said the department budget allocation for 2019/20 financial year is R25, 408 billion which will increase by an average 6.7% year-on-year (R27, 177 billion in 2020/2021 and 28, 963 billion in 2021/22) over the medium term expenditure framework period. The Minister stated that the department will move with speed to fill strategic vacant posts in order to ensure efficient and effective service delivery.
Minister Lamola welcomed the seamless insourcing of catering services at 26 kitchens that were previously outsourced to African Global Operations (Bosasa). He announced that 1, 032 cadets are currently undergoing training for the correctional services learnership programme which will bolster the staff complement at centre level. The Minister mentioned that an additional 1, 032 will commence with their training in the next two months, taking the number of recruits to 2, 064 in the next two years.
Lamola postulated that despite fiscal constraints and consequent budget cuts, DCS must develop smart strategies to ensure that it is able to do more with less. Instead of despondency, he urged the department to use the challenges it faces as a catalyst towards self-sustenance. Having toured Boksburg production workshop on the eve of the Budget Vote debate, the Minister is adamant that optimal utilisation and expansion of the production workshops and agricultural production can unlock opportunities and yield multiple benefits for the department in terms of revenue generation, but also for the inmates insofar as skills development is concerned.
He further affirmed the country’s posture to locate victims of crime at the centre of the criminal justice system. To this end, he said; “Our wish is that each offender must meet with their victims before release, to promote healing, forgiveness and reconciliation between offenders and the offended”.
The Deputy Minister, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa, said that propelling the department forward will require a special cadre of correctional official who is grounded on the values of moral rectitude and integrity. “To achieve a society characterised by justice, one of the focus areas of the Department of Correctional Services is to stamp out corruption within its ranks,” he said.
Nkosi Holomisa also highlighted the importance of realigning the operating model of the department to meet and respond to the changing needs and profile of offenders. “A Service Delivery Model (SDM) for DCS has been developed to respond to the mandate of the Department, and is aligned to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Operations Management Framework,” said the Deputy Minister.
Deputy Minister Holomisa conveyed his condolences to the family and co-workers of Ms Nomsa Joyce Stuurman who was killed by a male inmate at Goedemoed Correctional Centre in March this year. He said this abhorrent act highlights the dangers that correctional officials face on a daily basis when executing their duties. He said preventative measures should be implemented to prevent such from happening.
Nkosi Holomisa further enunciated that the advent of the fourth industrial revolution means that the department must prioritise the modernisation of information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and business application systems. “The Department of Correctional Services reaffirms its commitment to modernise its correctional systems by replacing old legacy systems with reliable, integrated and secure information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and business application systems,” he said.