As part of correction and rehabilitation, security operations are central to ensuring that the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), fulfils its mandate to provide safety and security to inmates, officials and the public, as well as ensure compliance to release conditions for parolees and probationers.
With the festive season upon us, it is during this period that correctional centres experience an increase in the number of admissions, assaults and smuggling of contraband into correctional facilities. Given the restrictive nature of the correctional centre environment, it is very critical to intensify security measures in correctional centres, especially during the festive season period. In line with government’s plan to realise a ‘Safer Festive Season’, DCS launched its 2021 National Festive Season Security Operational Plan on 25 and 26 November 2021, at Pollsmoor Management Area, in the Western Cape region.
The purpose of the launch was to assess the state of readiness, and to ensure that DCS is proactive in its approach to prevent any security breaches during the festive season period. Chief Security Officer (CSO), Lucky Mthethwa, said the campaign is also embedded in the approach to detect, prevent and respond to any security risk, including escape attempts by inmates.
The two-day launch commenced with surprise monitoring visits to parolees in Bellville, Cape Town and Mitchells Plain on 25 November 2021. Three groups, comprising of members of the DCS Emergency Support Team (EST), South African Police Service (SAPS), and other law enforcement agencies, led by DCS apex leadership were dispatched to these areas. The parole policy of the Department makes provision for the release of an incarcerated offender to be placed under supervision in the system of community corrections to serve the remainder of their sentence, in the community, outside a DCS correctional facility.
During the official programme, which took place on the second day, 26 November 2021, the acting National Commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale reflected on the activities that transpired during the monitoring visits. While conducting the monitoring, some parolees were found to be in full compliance with their parole conditions, while those who violated their conditions as well as absconders, were re-apprehended and taken back into custody.
Commissioner Thobakgale also mentioned that, while effecting social reintegration of the offender by releasing them on parole, one of the key objectives of the Department, stipulated in the White Paper on Corrections in South Africa, is to make a contribution to the promotion of the community’s responsibility in correcting deviant behaviour. He also instructed security officials to implement procedural security measures such as patrols, frequent surprise searches of both inmates and officials, to eradicate contraband, amongst others. “Apex leadership will be deployed to conduct monitoring and evaluation visits to correctional centres across the regions, to ensure that there is compliance and implementation of all security measures” affirmed Commissioner Thobakgale.
It was also noted that, in order for the Department to achieve positive outcomes on this operation, it has to join forces with other members of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster. Representing SAPS, Brigadier Tshugelo Raboliba, assured DCS that their workforce and support will readily be available, and there will be a cooperative operational relationship between members. The judiciary, represented by Judge President of the Western Cape Division of the High Court, Judge John Hlophe, endorsed the campaign and pledged their full support and cooperation. He highlighted that the time for members of the JCPS cluster to work together has come. “It is very important for members of the JCPS cluster to work wiser and closely together to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the cluster, and contribute to a safer South Africa,” said Judge Hlophe.
The launch concluded with a series of simulations by EST members, on detection and response tactics, to eliminate any security risks. Given the concerning reported cases on violence against female officials by inmates, EST female officials who attended the DCS’s Self-Defence Training, gave an exceptional demonstration on self-defence skills to illustrate how they are capable to respond to any attack by inmates.