In the lead-up to the official opening of the Tzaneen Correctional Centre, National Commissioner, Mr Arthur Fraser, together with members of executive management visited the Centre, which falls under Polokwane Management Area in the LMN Region, to assess its state of readiness. The construction of the new generation medium facility is set to be officially opened on Friday, 20 November 2020. The National Commissioner was relatively satisfied that the construction of the facility has finally been completed, although delayed.
The completion of Tzaneen Correctional Centre heralds a significant milestone in the Department’s quest to roll out modern infrastructure to ensure humane incarceration and effective rehabilitation of offenders. The opening of the centre will also create additional bed spaces, thus reducing overcrowding. Commissioner Fraser commended the exemplary leadership of the LMN Region under the stewardship of the Regional Commissioner, Mr Tlabo Thokolo.
The visit commenced with a tour of the centre, led by the LMN Regional Commissioner, Mr Tlabo Thokolo to different sections of the Facility. The National Commissioner identified minor things that needed to be rectified and improved to ensure that the facility is in pristine state ahead of the official opening. Amongst other places he visited was the kitchen where he directed operational managers to ensure that food handlers are provided with appropriate clothing. “Food handlers should be identified with their clothing, which differentiate them from other offenders,” he said. He also insisted that the right equipment be allocated to those working in the workshop to make it easier for them to execute their duties. He also visited laundry and advised that officials should get proper training to operate the machine.
LMN Regional Commissioner, Mr Thokolo assured the National Commissioner that all matters raised will be addressed before the official opening of the centre.
During the tour, the National Commissioner and his executive members interacted with offenders who were transferred in phases from Thohoyandou and Polokwane management areas.
The Chief Operations Commissioner said that it has been a learning curve for the department during the opening of other similar new generation facilities such as Estcourt, Standerton, Qalakabusha and Ngqamakhwe. “DCS needs to be involved from planning phase with Department of Public Works to factor in appropriate specifications suitable for the desired correctional structures. Focus on telecommunications, maintenance and boreholes are critical aspects to avoid complete collapse of the structures,” said Mr Mkabela
Commissioner Fraser said that Tzaneen Correctional Centre must be sufficiently capacitated and requires a new security system to operate optimally in order to service the 501 inmate population. “New age centres provide proper rehabilitation and freedom and requires our security management to exert authority and be vigilant. We should be clear on policies and must ensure that there is no smuggling of contraband”. He thanked the task team members for their collective efforts in ensuring that the centre will be fully operational by the end of November 2020.
The National Commissioner was accompanied by the Chief Operations Commissioner, Mr Mandla Mkabela, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Incarceration and Correction, Mr Makgothi Thobakgale, Chief Financial Officer, Mr Nick Ligege, LMN Regional Commissioner, Mr Tlabo Thokolo as well as the Chief Security Officer, Mr Lucky Mthethwa.