“Within DCS, I have discovered phenomenal women,” – Mr Arthur Fraser, National Commissioner
Scores of female officials from the Department of Correctional Services gathered at the Kirkwood Management Area, Eastern Cape Region, and some connected virtually to commemorate the National Women’s Month on 26 to 27 August 2021.
Delivering an opening address on day one, the acting Chief Operations Commissioner, Mr Phiko Mbambo, lamented on the atrocious acts of gender based violence meted out to women over the past few years. “We are on day 26 of the Women’s month in South Africa and everyday has been filled with harrowing details of unspeakable harm brought on women by people known to them and mostly, people that they trust,” he remarked. “May all the discussions of today help us understand our roles and responsibilities, also as men who are working with these women, so that we may be able to reduce the cases of sexual harassment in the workplace,” he added.
Day one of the commemorative event was a conference which comprised of various speakers. The presentations which varied from Sexual Harassment, Ethics and the law, the role of leadership, Women and Money, Gender- Based Violence Testimony were aimed at empowering female officials as well as equipping them with the necessary information and skills to execute their daily tasks and become ideal correctional officials.
“As a Department, we have a responsibility to advance women empowerment,” said Mr Arthur Fraser, National Commissioner of Correctional Services. “Women’s Month must not be an event but a commitment and a process. Corrections is transformative in nature, therefore we cannot be a Department of Correctional Services without transformation,” he added. The National Commissioner bemoaned the fact that two female officials have been brutally murdered inside correctional centres and urged officials to comply with basic policy procedures, adding that criminal liability should be applied where there is a death of an official due to negligence and non-compliance.
National Commissioner highlighted the reason for the erection of a National Garden of Remembrance for officials who have died due to COVID-19 related complications and Gender Based Violence. He stated that COVID-19 was not normal and urged officials to light a candle daily at every centre for officials who had succumbed to the disease. The Garden of Remembrance Memorial was officially unveiled on the second day in honour of the 231 officials that the Department has lost nationally due to COVID-19 as well as in memory of the three female officials and one male official lost due to Gender Based Violence.