Heads of Correctional Centres (HCCs) have the responsibility to control and manage all operations in the centre and instil effective security operations that are in-line with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) approved policies. This overriding sentiment was emphasized during the acting Chief Operations Commissioner, Phiko Mbambo’s working visit to Allandale Management Area on 07 – 08 September 2021 for HCCs in the Western Cape Region.
In pursuance of the mission to improve security operations in the ‘Theatre of Operations’ (correctional centres), the acting COC embarked on a two-day working visit, which is the third leg of his series of six visits to all HCCs in DCS. The purpose of these sessions is to assess the progress of HCCs in implementing the “tools of trade” which were launched on 11 March 2021, and also to mitigate against any challenges that may be obstructing the execution thereof.
The Head of Pollsmoor Correctional Centre, Thobeka Bikaur-Mneno, unpacked the HCCs Handbook and also shared her lived experience as a head of one of the biggest correctional centres in South Africa. Mneno expounded on how an inconsistent leadership, management and supervision by HCCs at operational level can lead to non-compliance to policies and procedures, thus compromising service delivery, and resulting in an unconducive, unhygienic working environment. These unconducive working environments often result in security breaches and unethical conduct by correctional officials. Mneno further encouraged the HCCs to use the Handbook as a guide to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and compliance. “Any successful doctor in the theatre is measured according to their rate of successful surgeries, hence the Head of Correctional Centre will be measured according to the success rate of rehabilitated offenders” said Mneno.
Addressing the session, acting COC, Phiko Mbambo outlined the importance of adherence towards the HCCs Handbook in order to enhance the performance of correctional centres, avoid security breaches and ensure the rehabilitation of offenders in all centres. “As HCCs, you are the engine of the Department that will ensure that when offenders exit the correctional system, they are rehabilitated and ready to be re-integrated with the society” said Mbambo. He also encouraged HCCs to adopt a reading culture and familiarize themselves with the
HCCs Handbook as it entails the step-to-step guidance including the mandate and functions of the HCC, admission and accommodation processes of inmates, mandatory reports, six pillars of security, discipline and rehabilitation of inmates to mention a few. Acting COC Mbambo further appealed to the HCCs to intensify security measures, such as surprise searches which are to be conducted and recorded in the diary of the HCCs.
During discussions, HCCs from different correctional centres raised operational challenges such as incident reporting timelines to the National Operations Centres (NOC), overcrowding and contingency plans amongst others. In an effort to mitigate and provide guidance, Deputy Commissioner: Communications, Logan Maistry explained the importance of an effective communication flow, including the reporting of any security incident to the NOC timeously to activate an effective response as well as to avoid misrepresentation of facts by external media houses.
In his closing remarks, Mbambo commended the HCCs for their active participation and initiating robust discussions which he believes will yield positive outcomes. “I encourage you to impart the knowledge learnt from this session to colleagues in your respective centres and work together to eliminate any challenges. You are the engine of this department, let us execute our roles with pride and accountability” said Mbambo.