National Commissioner, Arthur Fraser, and Acting Chief Operations Commissioner, Phiko Mbambo, embarked on a working visit to the Kroonstad Training College on 24 August 2021. The aim of the visit was to afford the executives an opportunity to assess the environment under which the entry level correctional officials are trained, conduct a physical tour to have a closer look at the state of the infrastructure, identify challenges and give counsel to enhance operational efficiency.
Addressing the managers who were present during the visit, Commissioner Fraser said the Chief Directorate Human Resource Development (HRD) is the hope of the Department. He alluded that HRD cannot be equal to other functions within the DCS because it is a function that should oversee other components and point the direction to where the organisation should go. He said HRD should ensure that the Department recruits people that are fit for purpose and also conduct orientation and induction for managers to develop leaders that appreciate the uniqueness of the Department and the calibre of people they lead.
“Our performance is assessed at a centre level, and therefore, it is critical that HRD is able to develop capacity to ensure that the DCS is centre centric,” he said. He stated that HRD should internalize and crystalize the new direction that the Department is taking, which is centre centric, in order to train and develop others towards adopting the concept of head office as the centre of excellence and our correctional centres as theatres of operation. He stressed the importance of centre of excellence internalizing the newly revised tools of trade in order to institutionalize them and not to work in a silo manner. He said HRD through training and development should be the catalysts in influencing what happens at the centres.
The programme of the day included a brief background of the college which also comprised of some of the inherent challenges that come with running the institution. Acting COC Mbambo expressed his concern regarding the shortage of staff at the college and the delay in filling of critical posts that are key in the smooth running of the college. He said as much as the Department is focusing on beefing up staff at centre level, the focus should also be at making sure that colleges where foot soldiers are equipped are fully capacitated. The establishment has 96 funded posts, of which about 80 are filled and 3 of the senior and most critical posts are currently vacant including the Head of College. Mbambo said it was obvious that the training centre was built as the state-of-the-art facility of that time. He described the facility as a solid structure that needed the Department to upgrade whilst retaining its original vintage features.
Senior managers made their inputs and highlighted a number of opportunities after the walk about and observation of the facility. Appointment of an integrated task team to focus on the restoration and advancement of the current state of the colleges was proposed. A need for a swift move towards the fourth industrial revolution and upgrade of the libraries and resource centres were some of the needs that were highlighted. A refurbishment plan for the college that will be implemented overtime, and that will optimize the opportunities to use the training facility to generate revenue through partnerships was mooted. The plan will herald a shift towards the prioritization of maintenance and utilization of qualified artisans within the DCS to use their expertise to meet the DCS maintenance needs.
The Kroonstad Training College took its first trainees in 1961 in a temporal structure and the building of the current permanent structure was developed from 1963. It accommodates about 540 learners per intake. Some of its special features include an Olympic standard swimming pool, semi-indoor shooting range, three rugby fields, athletics track and a fully equipped gymnasium.
Commissioner Fraser encouraged collaboration between the Bizzah Makhate Management Area and the college so that there is visibility of offender labour in the college and optimal use of departmental own resources to restore and rebuild what has been broken. He said the Department cannot continue to battle with basic maintenance when it has offender labour.