As the festive season approaches, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is girding up its legion of correctional officials to eliminate potential security lapses. Historically, the festive season is notorious for recording high incidents of security breaches in the correctional centres. During the Strategic Operations Management Committee (SOMC) held on 20 – 21 October 2021, at Kgoši Mampuru II Management Area. Chief Security Officer, Lucky Mthethwa appraised the Standard Operating Management Committee (SOMC) on the positive progress the department has made, in relation to the procurement of security equipment. He indicated that the departmental process of procuring security equipment (leg irons, handcuffs, tonfas, key bag pouches, holsters, shoulder straps and hand-held metal detectors) has been approved and is now underway.
Furthermore, DCS has requested the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (ARMSCOR), which is an arms procurement agency of the South African Department of Defence, to assist in the procurement of additional security equipment. These additional security equipment include 9mm ammunition, pepper sprays and neutralizers, gas/fire filters, male and female body armour. Mthethwa also indicated that the projected date of delivery will be in the financial year 2021/2022. Currently, there are 2000 pepper sprays and 2000 neutralizes delivered, which are being distributed to the regions.
The two-day SOMC session commenced with the members splitting into six groups that visited different centres within Kgoši Mampuru II Management Area, to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the current measures and practices within the theatres of operations (correctional centres). This is done through the process of identifying potential risks, such as security breaches, dilapidated infrastructure and other risks that could affect the safety of both officials and inmates. Although SOMC members visited various centres, there were common risks identified. These risks include, movement control of inmates, overcrowding, and attendance of complaints and requests by inmates, and lack of medical doctors amongst others.
During discussions, members of SOMC including Regional Commissioners, weighed in with valuable inputs on mitigating factors that can assist and create smooth operations management. It was also pointed out that Heads of Correctional Centres should intensify the implementation of the tools of trade. These tools of trade include the Security Intervention Model Standard that can be used as a guide to eradicate security breaches in the centres.
In addition, the acting Chief Operations Commissioner, Phiko Mbambo gave feedback on the HCC’ sessions he conducted in all the regions. These sessions were aimed at establishing the extent to which tools of trade are being implemented in the correctional centres. It was also observed that the security and operational challenges that were discussed in this SOMS, are similar to those identified by the HCCs. Mbambo also applauded regions that simplified and adapted the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) into a user-friendly and understandable format for all officials.