National Commissioner Arthur Fraser has hailed the recent visit by magistrates’ to correctional centres as a step in the right direction towards creating better corrections.
Last Friday (7 February 2020), as part of their judicial training, a cohort of 240 newly-appointed magistrates, divided into two groups of 120 each, visited correctional facilities at Kgoši Mampuru II and Johannesburg Management Areas to gain first-hand insight into the inner workings of a correctional centre. The magistrates are taking part in the 2020 Training Programme of the South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI).
On Monday (10 February 2020), during continuation of the National Management Third Quarterly Performance Review Session, Commissioner Fraser said that this partnership will foster better relations between DCS and the judiciary. “This initiative must be welcomed, and will certainly add value to the JCPS Cluster and justice value-chain. To take this programme forward and ensure a uniform approach, Chief Operations Commissioner Mr. Mandla Mkabela must table a Corrections Training Manual for the Judiciary for consideration by the DCS Strategic Operations Management Committee and thereafter the Management Committee (ManCo),” said Commissioner Fraser.
According to Gauteng Regional Commissioner, Ms. Thakane Molatedi, the interaction between the magistrates and Correctional Services will pave a way for the judiciary to gain a better understanding of DCS operations as well as the impact of overcrowding in correctional facilities. “The Gauteng Region, for instance, has 36 000 inmates, who, in some instances, have been sentenced to imprisonment for petty crimes such as stealing a loaf bread. The Department spends approximately R350 per inmate per day, and, where possible, non-custodial sentencing options must be considered to alleviate overcrowding and make rehabilitation more impactful,” Ms. Molatedi said.
Additional issues covered by DCS Management during the visit included the state of correctional facilities, an overview of remand detention facilities and processes, factors impacting on effective remand detention as well as anti-gang management.
The magistrates’ applauded DCS officials for their work under difficult conditions. Chief Magistrate Daniel Thulare observed that during his interaction with detainees, they raised concerns regarding their prolonged stay at correctional facilities before going on trial as well as their inability to pay bail or fines. The tour was an eye opener and the magistrates were impressed with the processes put in place to ensure the smooth running of correctional centres.