The National Commissioner, Mr Arthur Fraser called on the Heads of Centres to understand and internalise the critical and transformational role they play in changing the face of Corrections, in pursuit of Vision 2068 of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). Commissioner Fraser enjoined delegates attending the 3-day (16 – 18 February 2021) Heads of Centres (HCCs) Work Session in Boksburg Management Area, to exercise the state authority bestowed on them with firmness and due diligence. “You are a singular person with the authority to maintain and protect the authority of the state in your facility. Under no circumstance, must you relinquish the state authority invested in you as the Head of Centre,” he cautioned.
Commissioner Fraser said HCCs are a key cog and play an important role in ensuring that DCS delivers on its duty to promote the philosophy of corrections from a developmental perspective, and to drive change internally and in the broader society. He urged the HCCs to demonstrate patriotism, serve the constitution, empower officials they lead, and build systems that will cement their legacies beyond their tenure. Mr Fraser highlighted important cardinal pillars that he ascribes to and which define authentic leadership i.e. being principled at all instances, being rational in all your decisions, remaining consistent, and being just and fair.
Commissioner Fraser said real leaders don’t have the luxury to lament, but instead must find solutions to the challenges confronting the Department. “Never displace your responsibility because the Department is highly reliant on you as HCCs to deliver on all its performance indicators,” he emphasized. Other issues that came to the fore during his address include:
- Offender-official relationships. He directed the HCCs to ensure that this practice is stopped henceforth.
- Ensuring compliance with DCS norms and standards
- Making Correctional Centres contraband-free zones
- Striving for excellence in all areas of operations, including agriculture
- HCCs must be drivers of change and transformation in the Department
- Ensuring improved offender management, including putting a stop to escapes especially by foreign nationals
- Ensuring proper offender classification and placement
- Lack of patriotism and non-adherence to protocol
Chief Operations Commissioner (COC), Mr Mandla Mkabela said the objective of the session was to help HCCs understand, embrace and share in the Vision of the Department (Vision 2068); empower and equip them with the necessary tools of trade to ensure effective functioning of the ‘Theatres of Operations’; to inculcate a culture of discipline; and to ensure high levels of data integrity and information. He said the absence of strategic leadership, management and supervision compromises sound ethical administration, which result in high levels of non-compliance, poor performance and adverse audit findings.
COC Mkabela expounded on the principles of management i.e. planning, decision making, organising, coordinating, delegation, control, leading, management, and supervision. He said that some of the challenges plaguing the Department are as a result of leaders who subscribe to traditional leadership methods and are reluctant to embrace change e.g. controlling people rather than empowerment and effective use of their talents.
COC Mkabela encouraged the HCCs to read up on laws and policies to help them manage better. Cautioning the HCC about ‘Rank Malyties’, the COC said, “Power becomes powerless when it is unused, misused or abused”. To this end, he encouraged them to adopt a leadership style that embraces and empowers people, especially low ranked officials.
Chief Security Officer (CSO), Mr Lucky Mthethwa unpacked the Festive Season Security Operations (FSSO) and observations of the leadership gleaned on their visits to various centres during the festive season period. Some of the key observations include poor inmate management system, unkempt terrains, contraband infested facilities, non-compliance with operational procedures, lack of modus operandi analysis, and an alarming rate of escapes recorded. He said 110 escapes have been reported in the current financial year to date, against the annual baseline of 56. He called on HCCs to put control measures to reverse this unacceptable trend.
The Eastern Cape Regional Commissioner, Mr Phiko Mbambo gave an enlightening presentation on the importance of forging mutually beneficial partnerships with various stakeholders across international, national, provincial and local spectrums. He said this approach fits with the District Service Delivery Development Model that has been approved by Cabinet and announced by the President.
Deputy Regional Commissioner of Free State and Northern Cape, Mr Takalani Mashamba and HCC Atteridgeville, Advocate Patricia Masinga shared a presentation on Corrections Administration and Case Management, and identified gaps and common pitfalls for HCCs to be mindful of and remedy.
Delegates broke into two commissions led by the Area Commissioners of Johannesburg and Kgoši Mampuru II Management Areas, Messrs Luckyboy Mathiba and Emmanuel Khoza respectively, to discuss, dissect and input on the Draft Head of Centre Handbook and redesign, realign and standardise the work plans of HCCs with the operational imperatives. The Commissions reported back to plenary on the last day of the session. Also in attendance was the Chief Deputy Commissioner Incarceration and Corrections, Mr Makgothi Thobakgale.