Report of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on its 2-6 August 2010 oversight visits to the Leeuwkop, Pretoria Female, Rustenburg, New Kimberley, Durban Westville and Ebongweni correctional centres - dated 26 January 2011.
PART ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 This report comprises four parts: an introduction, the background to the visits, the visiting delegation’s observations, and lastly the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services’ (the Committee) recommendations.
1.2. The Committee undertook a
week-long oversight visit to correctional centres in the
1.3 The report was compiled drawing on observations made during the oversight visit, information gathered during meetings at Parliament, interactions with the Portfolio Committee on and Department of Public Works (DPW), as well as a questionnaire filled out by heads of centres prior to the visits.
1.4 The report should be read along with the Report of the Portfolio Committee of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works, which details maintenance-related and DPW- specific recommendations.
1.5 Upon adoption, the report will be submitted to the DCS, DPW and Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) for comment and implementation.
PART TWO: BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT OF VISITS
2.1 The 2 and 3 August visits to the Leeuwkop and Pretoria Female correctional centres comprised orientation briefings by centre management, a tour of the facilities, interactions with sentenced and unsentenced inmates, service providers, correctional officials and, where possible, correctional supervision and parole board (CSPB) chairpersons.
2.2 The 4 to 6 August visits were jointly undertaken with the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and were largely aimed at evaluating progress made in the addressing of maintenance and infrastructure-related challenges observed during the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services’ May 2010 oversight visits to the Rustenburg, Durban Westville and Ebongweni correctional centres. It was agreed that the New Kimberley Correctional Centre that began admitting offenders in February 2010, and was “adopted” by then Correctional Services’ Committee, should also be visited as, despite being brand new, a number of maintenance and other challenges have been reported at the centre.
2.3 Given the consistently highlighted difficulties related to the DPW and DCS’ relationship, and the consequent difficulties in addressing maintenance-related challenges, the Committees agreed that the executive management of the two departments should accompany the delegation on these visits as they would be expected to account for failure to make reasonable improvements by the end of the 2010/11 financial year.
2.3 Leeuwkop Correctional Centre
2.3.1 The Leeuwkop
management area is situated approximately 30 kms from
2.3.2 The area can accommodate 3 089 male offenders and at the time of the visit accommodated approximately 4 783 sentenced offenders: 1 053 at Medium A, 792 at Medium B, 1 283 at Medium C and 1623 at the Maximum Security Centre. Though all the centres are over-populated, the Maximum Centre experienced the worst levels of overcrowding.
2.3.3 At the time of the visit the correctional centres in the area operated on a 2x12 hour shift system.
2.4.2 The Centre was designed to accommodate 166 offenders, but at the time of the visit accommodated 256 sentenced and 70 unsentenced offenders. Eight of the sentenced and one of the unsentenced offenders were incarcerated with their babies, whose ages ranged from 2 weeks to 20 months. The population included six unsentenced juveniles, 16 unsentenced ‘youths’, 40 sentenced “youths” and two children, one sentenced and one unsentenced.
2.4.3 The Centre had a financed staff establishment of 103, and at the time of the visit had 20 vacancies. The Centre had no social worker.
2.4.4 All centres in the management area have implemented the Seven-Day Establishment (7DE), and all but the Female centre operated on a 2 x 12 shift system. Owing to acute staff shortages over weekends, the Female Centre operated on a 5- shift system during the week, and a 4-shift system over weekends.
2.4.5 The delegation also visited the workshops where Members interacted with sentenced offenders from the Pretoria Local and Female centres working in the upholstery, textile, woodwork and steel workshops.
2.5.1 The Committee has had a number of interactions with the DCS on its maintenance challenges. Two of these were joint meetings with the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and involved both the DCS and the DPW.
2.5.2 The Committee’s May visit to the Rustenburg, Ebongweni and Durban Westville correctional centres revealed maintenance challenges that emphasised the urgency with which the working relationship between the DCS and the DPW needed to be addressed. Poor maintenance and infrastructural weaknesses compromise security as well as humane conditions of detention. When boilers are broken, as in the case of the Rustenburg and Ebongweni correctional centres, inmates do not have access to hot water, and food preparation is compromised. Owing to poor ventilation the Ebongweni Correctional Centre completed in 2002 at a cost of more than R500 million, has occupancy of less than 50%. In addition to having resulted in the centre not operating optimally, the lack of ventilation could have serious consequences should there be a breakout of an airborne disease. Broken windows, even if they are too small for an inmate to escape through, pose a threat to safety, as shards of glass can be used against fellow inmates and staff. Faulty access control equipment can lead to serious security breaches: the Durban Westville escapees had allegedly managed to scale the electronic fence because it was not working at the time. Leaking roofs, damaged walls and broken toilets, are harmful to health and promote the spread of disease. Taps that are left to run for even just hours cost the State dearly in natural and financial resources.
2.5.3 Following their June 2010 interaction, both the Correctional Services and Public Works Committees acknowledged the complexities inherent in the DCS’ relationship with the DPW, and agreed that without the necessary leadership and commitment from senior management in both departments, the long overdue Service Level Agreement (SLA) will be as ineffective as the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that has governed their relationship for the past three years. The joint meeting held on 2 June 2010 convinced both committees that without their urgent intervention, service delivery in terms of maintenance was unlikely to improve, thus further compromising security in correctional centres and costing the State billions of rands when, for instance, centres procured at great cost, present maintenance challenges owing to shoddy workmanship.
2.5.4 Given the situation illustrated above, it was agreed that a joint oversight visit be undertaken to the centres listed as well as to the recently completed New Kimberley Correctional Centre which at completion cost the State R839 million and which is already riddled with maintenance challenges.
2.5.5 The Directors-General and the relevant senior management officials of both departments accompanied the parliamentary delegation in order for them to witness first hand the consequences of poor decision-making. They are expected to develop an action plan for the speedy finalisiation of the long overdue DPW-DCS SLA, and to ensure meaningful progress in addressing the severe challenges at the four centres by February 2011 when the Committees intend to undertake follow-up visits.
PART THREE: OBSERVATIONS
3.1.1 Both the DCS and DPW made great strides in attending to some of the matters identified during the Committee’s May oversight visit. These improvements are welcomed, as they translate to better working conditions for officials, and better conditions of incarceration for inmates. The speed with which some matters could be addressed after the May visit, confirms the Committee’s suspicion that what lacks most when it comes to the DCS’ service delivery, is lack of will and decisive leadership. There are in excess of 230 correctional centres in the country, and despite its best efforts, the Committee will not be able to visit all of them during its term, and therefore service delivery should not be dependent on the Committee’s chance discovery of where it is lacking. As often reiterated in interactions with the DCS, the Committee is a strategic partner to the DCS, its only interest being ensuring the humane detention of inmates and the adequate management of State resources, financial and otherwise.
3.1.2 Officials at all centres visited complained of the DPW’s lack of and/or slow response to complaints lodged via its maintenance hotline/call centre. Leeuwkop correctional centre had for instance lodged a request for the maintenance of the cold room and boiler at the Juvenile centre as early as January 2010, yet 8 months, and numerous follow-up queries later, no response was received. The justification that the cold room had been installed by the DCS itself, and that therefore that department should take full responsibility for its repair, was rejected.
3.1.2 Many correctional centres visited reported major challenges with boilers. The delegation was assured that the DPW treats reports of broken boilers as emergencies. The DPW has performed an audit of all boilers at correctional centres that have reached the end of their lifespan, and the DCS had been informed of the centres affected. Gas boilers would be replaced with electric ones.
3.1.3 The DCS was responsible for the repair and maintenance of minor maintenance matters costing up to R30 000 per line item, but the department reported that given the pressures of overcrowding, the general poor condition of many centres and the destructive nature of the vast majority of inmates, that amount is often not enough.
3.1.4 All centres visited during the May oversight visit reported numerous improvements made since that visit. At the Rustenburg Medium A Centre, for example, the cold room had been completely repaired and was fully functional at the time of the visit. The refurbishment of the kitchen had started and is scheduled for completion by the end of December 2010. Gas boilers would be replaced by electric ones. All leaking taps and broken toilets were reportedly repaired, however during the tour of the facility the delegation came across a urinal and toilet in that inmates and officials confirmed had been broken since as far back as 2006.
3.1.5 The Durban Westville Correctional Centre provided a detailed report on progress made in the addressing of maintenance challenges reported and observed during the May visit. Leaking taps, toilets and showers, and broken windows had reportedly all been repaired, and maintenance was ongoing as the need arose. Although the Youth Centre has since June had hot water, two boilers were still not operational at the time of the visit: one would have been fixed by mid-August, while the other was to be repaired through a RAMP contract which at the time of the visit had not yet been awarded. At the Medium A centre, the sewer line had collapsed allowing water to run into the storm water system. The delegation was appalled at both the DCS and DPW’s lackadaisical attitude towards the situation which poses a real threat to the heath of officials and inmates: at the time of the visit no interim measures had been put in place and the tender for the restoration of the sewer line had only days before the visit closed. A further cause for concern related to the tautwire fence, which had been installed at great cost, but has not been operational since its practical hand-over. The contract for the replacement of the intercom system had been awarded and was set for completion by November 2010.
3.1.6 Ebongweni Super Maximum Correctional Centre management reported a number of improvements since the May visit: ventilation system, climate control and hot water challenges were to be addressed by mid August, the repair of the under floor heating which has never been operational would commence by 1 October and would be completed through a RAMP project. There was no service contract for the generators the centre often has to rely on, and their repair is funded from the unplanned maintenance allowance. The centre reported that the repair and maintenance of all kitchen equipment at the medium centre were included in the Electrical and Mechanical RAMP, and that most of the challenges have been addressed. The ceiling that was collapsing at the time of the May visit has been repaired and the remaining minor leaks at both the medium and super maximum centres were being addressed. The Super Maximum centre was built on a steep slope. The floors which have not been properly treated for adequate grip, pose a serious occupational health and safety risk and would be attended to through a RAMP project as soon as funds became available. A contractor has been appointed to address the centre’s sagging sewer line, and minor blockages will be addressed as the need arises.
3.1.7 The delegation received reports from both the DCS and the DPW on maintenance challenges experienced at the New Kimberley Correctional Centre. While the DCS admitted that greater oversight and management was necessary, its report was vague as to what had resulted in the damage to kitchen equipment, infrastructure, laundry equipment, etc. The DPW’s report had clearly pointed to acts of gross mismanagement: much of the damage appears to be the result of improper use of equipment, negligence, and even deliberate acts of destruction.
3.1.8 The DCS-commissioned IT installation at the New Kimberley Correctional Centre was of particular concern: despite the DPW’s requests that the installation be done earlier, the DCS failed to insist that the contractor do so. The project provided special sleeves for the IT network, but power skirting and cables were nevertheless positioned over the floor. Furthermore, given the late installation, ceilings and ceiling board supports had had to be cut and removed to create a passage for the IT installation. Despite clear instructions to keep security rooms at low temperatures, these rooms are reportedly often heated to well above the recommended temperature. This causes serious damage to the equipment, and IT failures in this room could seriously compromise security. In addition it appears as though no one had ensured that that the IT installation and equipment met the required standards.
3.1.9 At its February 2010 visit to the New Kimberley Correctional Centre the Committee had recommended that toilets be built in all hospital wards, so as to reduce security risks at night time when fewer staff were on duty to accompany sick offenders to the toilets located outside wards. Members were taken aback that, despite this recommendation, nothing had been done to commence the project, and that the wards could therefore still not be used.
3.1.8 The DPW and DCS have not yet been able to
conclude their SLA, and their relationship remains informed only by a
memorandum of understanding (MOU), It is believed that the absence of the SLA,
with each party’s responsibilities clearly defined, has contributed to many of
the challenges in addressing the DCS’ maintenance needs. The absence of a
3.2.2 The structure accommodating juvenile and child offenders at Leeuwkop was erected in 1983 as a temporary structure to house pre-release offenders. Being a zinc structure, it is very cold in winter, and very hot in summer. It has 24 cells, accommodating 620 juvenile and 14 child offenders, aged between 15 and 19 years. It has no dining facility; inmates are forced to have their meals outside in the courtyard, in a structure that has a corrugated roof only, no walls and gives no protection in inclement weather. The facility is dilapidated and, the Committee believes, wholly unsuitable for the humane detention of offenders.
The DCS had in 2002 acquired 892 hectares adjacent to the Medium B centre for the construction of a 3 000 bed new generation correctional centre. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) done at the time revealed that an endangered frog species was resident on the land, and because it was a protected species, construction had to be abandoned. Suspicions regarding the motivation for that decision are rife particularly following the consequent emergence of a residential development in the same area.
3.3 Human Resource Management
3.3.1 The DCS continues to report challenges as far as the recruitment and retention of staff. On the day of the visit the Pretoria Management area for example reported a 6:1500 official to offender ratio. According to the DCS this challenge stems, in part, from the fact that although the DCS is in the JCPS cluster, salaries and benefits are negotiated in the Public Service Bargaining Council resulting in discrepancies in what police and correctional officials earn. The distinction between centre-based and non-centre based officials poses a further challenge. Artisans complained that although they were originally employed as correctional officials, and despite the fact that they, through the workshops they run, also work directly with offenders, did not share the same benefits as those officials charged with guarding inmates in cells. Persistent challenges in recruiting and retaining professionals are ascribed to the fact that teachers and other professionals are compelled to join the DCS at the entry level for correctional officials.
3.3.2 The DCS reported that the 2x12 shift system impacted negatively on the roll-out of rehabilitation programmes, as well as on the work of case management committees (CMC). In addition to compromising the security of inmates and staff, rehabilitation as well as the timeous consideration of offenders for parole, the shift system has had a very negative impact on staff morale, leading to low productivity and sick-leave abuse.
3.3.3 Interactions with officials revealed that concerns regarding the occupational specific dispensation for educators, social workers and artisans remained. Information regarding its implementation is still not shared with staff regularly, leading to misunderstandings, confusion and frustration.
3.3.4 The Committee is very concerned about the numerous allegations of unfair labour practices by the DCS. During the May 2010 oversight visit the Committee had been alarmed that officials’ feared victimisation as a result of them sharing their concerns with the Committee. The delegation was deeply shocked that following the May visit, one official who had been particularly vocal, had allegedly been harassed and intimidated.
3.4 3 August 2010 incident at the New
3.4.1 During its February 2010 visit to the New Kimberley Correctional Centre the Committee had raised concerns regarding the ability of new recruits to manage the inmate population likely to be incarcerated at the centre. It had then recommended that “measures should [however] be put in place to ensure that the largely new and inexperienced warders are equipped to manage an offender population that is likely to be very familiar with incarceration and may attempt to manipulate and take advantage of warders’ lack of experience”. Furthermore it was feared that warders’ inexperience and insensitivity might make them prone to behaviour that may incite acts of violence among inmates. This recommendation went unheeded, and officials’ inexperience may have contributed to the as the 3 August incident during which inmates took officials hostage and caused millions of Rands worth of damage to one of the Units at the centre.
3.4.2 The August visit revealed that the deployment of largely inexperienced female offenders in units have led to their victimisation, harassment and intimidation by offenders. The bulk of the staff, male and female, had no more than 2 years’ experience and had up until the 3 August incident, performed their duties without the necessary monitoring and evaluation. Eighty-four officials have since been deployed to supervise the new recruits and officials at the old Kimberley Correctional Centre have committed themselves to providing the necessary support to the new recruits. The Northern Cape/Free State region has committed itself to ensuring that at least half of the officials will be experienced correctional officials able to provide supervision and guidance to inexperienced officials.
3.4.3 The investigation into the 3 August riot had revealed that the Head of the Correctional Centre (HCC) had been negligent in the manner in which he had handled inmate grievances and complaints. Contrary to what is required, he had failed to regularly visit units to interact with inmates and to receive inmate complaints. He had further committed himself to resolving the complaints he had received before the incident in unrealistic timeframes that he was not able to adhere to, thus further frustrating inmates. The HCC had further failed to ensure the installation of “mailboxes” where grievances could anonymously be posted. Preliminary investigations indicated that the HCC’s failure to adhere to complaints/grievance procedures was a major contributing factor.
3.5 Communication/Grievance procedures
3.5.1 Inmates at all centres visited complained that their complaints and grievances were not being attended to. According to officials at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre, that centre only has one independent correctional centre visitor (ICCV), stationed at the Maximum Security facility. Inmates regularly complain of ICCVs either not visiting centres or being ineffective. Inmates lodging complaints with the Committee deny that processes for receiving and attending to complaints are adhered to.
3.5.2 Many inmates complained of having no or very little access to public telephones making it difficult to contact their relatives and legal representatives. A further matter of concern was officials’ apparent censoring of correspondence beyond what the usual security measures demanded.
3.5.3 Inmates at all centres complained of being subjected to a whole manner of abuse if, during parliamentary committee visits, they expose improper behavior by officials/complain of ill-treatment or poor conditions of incarceration. At the New Kimberley Correctional Centre many inmates complained of warders, unit managers and the HCC treating them poorly and refusing to listen and attend to their complaints. There were also numerous allegations of inmates having been assaulted by officials. The HCC’s failure to respond to inmates requests for a meeting at which to discuss their grievances had for instance resulted in the 3 August riot that saw warders being taken hostage and extensive damage to their unit. More than one inmate indicated that the heavy-handed treatment he received at the centre, made him feel that he was in a maximum security, rather than a medium security facility.
3.6.1 Unlike rehabilitation programmes, education and training programmes are not compulsory and many inmates refuse to participate. The Pretoria Female Centre tried to involve youth in programmes, but because many of the programmes require a basic level of competency, many inmates are unable to benefit from them. It is hoped that increased cooperation between the departments of education, labour and the correctional services will result in better particpation.
3.6.2. Though the Leeuwkop Juvenile Centre centre had 692 juvenile offenders at the time of the visit, it could only accommodate 200 in classrooms. The centre managed to secure two additional temporary structures that could be used pending a permanent solution for the infrastructure challenges. Approximately 80 juvenile offenders who are attending classes are detained in separate cells, to ensure that they have opportunity to study. Such enrolment is voluntary. Offenders raised concern that despite their efforts to rehabilitate, upon release they will face prejudice because of their past criminal behaviour. Officials’ major concern related to the fact that participation in educational programmes was not compulsory even for children. Although all education programmes are marketed at the end of the year, many offenders are not interested and therefore attendance remains low. Should the DCS’ efforts to revive the construction of the new centre on the land adjacent to the current juvenile centre be successful, educational needs will be better met.
3.6.3 Concerns about the roll-out of work and education programmes at the Rustenburg Correctional Centre remain. Inmates refuted officials’ claims that a structured day programme was in place, and workshops still appear to be operating below expectation. In addition, although denied by officials, it appeared as though a separate structure on the grounds, ostensibly operating as a inmate workshop, is in fact a workshop where inmate-labour is used for private gain.
3.7.1 During most of the interactions with inmates, the delegation received complaints about inadequate health care and unprofessional behavior form nurses in particular. At the New Kimberley Correctional Centre, which has a state of the art medical centre, the Committee received complaints of rude, intimidating and unhelpful medical staff; one inmate, despite obviously having a serious medical condition, had allegedly consistently been refused medical care. At the Rustenburg Correctional Centre, an inmate was suffering from serious eye damage, which could have been prevented, had he received timeous medical attention.
3.8 Rehabilitation and Reintegration
3.8.1 Many of the inmates interviewed complained of never having had for sentence plans developed that would guide their rehabilitation while incarcerated. Where sentence plans were in place, many inmates complained of not taking part in any social work, psychological or other programmes aimed at facilitating the rehabilitation and eventual reintegration.
3.8.2 Interactions with inmates at the New Kimberley Correctional Centre revealed that a structured day programme comprising vocational training, rehabilitation and education programmes was practically non-existent. Inmates complained that many had agreed to being transferred to the centre on the premise that they would receive better treatment, and would have better opportunity for rehabilitation. This did not materialise and created widespread dissatisfaction and frustration.
3.9 Correctional Supervision and Parole
3.9.1 Inmates at all centres complained about and had queries regarding the correctional supervision and parole system. Such queries also make up the bulk of the written requests and complaints the Committee receives from inmates across the country. It appears as though many offenders are ill- or totally uninformed about how the parole system functions. Many assume that once they had served the minimum sentence in terms of the legislation under which they were sentenced, they should be granted parole.
3.9.2 The Leeuwkop correctional centres were served by two Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (CSPB) vice chairpersons. The CSPB’s and case management committee’s CMC’s work was further hampered by severe capacity constraints: the CSPB had no Chairperson and the CMC often had to surrender its staff when there are staff shortages in security areas. Although the Rustenburg CSPB reported no challenges, and no backlog the interaction with offenders revealed much ignorance about and dissatisfaction with the process.
3.9.3 All CSPB chair-and vice chairpersons agreed that poorly resourced and understaffed CMCs and the DCS’ shortage of social workers resulted in delays in the receipt of all the reports necessary to make informed rulings. The fact that case files were managed manually resulted in a protracted process, causing further delays and backlogs.
3.10.1 The Committee receives numerous complaints regarding apparently unprocedural transfers and /or delays in processing transfer-requests. These were reiterated during interactions with offenders during oversight visits. The DCS admitted that the transfer process was hardly, if ever adhered to. Inmates were seldom informed of transfers and are even more seldom provided with the reasons for their transfer.
3.11 Release of seriously ill inmates on medical parole
3.11.1 The Pretoria Correctional Centre had an accredited wellness clinic as well as a fulltime doctor. When considering whether a seriously ill inmate should be paroled for medical reasons, the DCS takes into account a number of factors including whether the inmate has a support system that would be able to provide him or her with the care needed. Sometimes families are unable and unwilling to take in their ill relatives, in such cases medical parole would be inhumane. Only seriously ill inmates qualify for medical parole and where they cannot be released to the care of their families, the DCS does all it can to refer them to hospices.
3.12 Profile/Security classification of inmates
3.12.1 The New Kimberley Correctional Centre is a medium security facility, but interaction with inmates soon revealed that a number of inmates who ought to be maximum security inmates, were detained at the centre. Mixing medium and maximum offenders seriously compromises security, and impacts on the success of rehabilitation initiatives.
3.12.2 On 18 August the DCS reported that a complete profiling of inmates detained at the centre was underway. Inmates would be classified in terms of the crimes they had committed, and first-time offenders will be separated from the rest of the inmate population. Serious offenders with lengthy sentences and “lifers” would be transferred to centres better suited to their needs.
3.13 Gang strategy
3.13.1 Interactions with inmates at the New Kimberley Correctional Centre revealed a very definite gang presence, with an official alarmingly being accused of being a member of a prison gang. The DCS reported that the newly appointed HCC had been redeployed from the Upington Correctional Centre where he had had considerable success in managing gang activity. Once the reclassification exercise had been completed, identified gang members would be diverted to centres where their activity could be curbed.
3.14 Vulnerable offenders
3.14.1 The Department raised a number of challenges related to the verification of child offenders’ ages. Where an offender is not in possession of an identity document (ID) or birth certificate, his or her age has to be verified by a medical professional. Offenders often reduce their ages in the hope that this would result in a lesser sentence. The DCS admitted that it needed to focus attention on managing age categories. At Leeuwkop although accommodated in separate cells, juveniles and children share meal and exercise time in the same courtyard as adult offenders. At least one child offender interviewed, reported that because of the fights targeting younger, more vulnerable offenders, he never spends exercise time outside of the cell.
3.14.2 The large number of awaiting-trial detainees (ATDs) encountered at the Rustenburg Correctional Centre, Pretoria and Durban-Westville was ascribed to the DCS not being able to release ATDs because bail has either not been set owing to the serious nature of the crimes they stood accused of, or because the DCS and South African Police Service (SAPS) did not have reliable addresses, thus increasing the risk of them absconding should they be released on bail. In many cases bail had been set, but offenders had no means of paying it. Delays in police investigations and court proceedings made speedy judgments and sentencing impossible.
3.14.3 Gauteng has the biggest concentration of women offenders, and it would be best to detain all women, including mothers with children, at a centre that was centrally located. Although the Johannesburg facility is also not entirely suitable, conditions there are more humane and therefore the DCS decided to transfer all women and women with babies to that facility. Suitable state-owned land was available at Attridgeville. The needs analysis has been done and the process of public consultation was underway. The DCS has taken best practices in other countries into consideration.
3.15 Self-sufficiency and inmate labour
3.15.1 The delegation raised concern about the DCS’ failure to make adequate use of the resources available to it, in particular agricultural land. The Leeuwkop facility was built on land suitable for agricultural activity for example, but was under-utilsed partly because maximum security inmates could not participate in work activities. It is hoped that the improved relationship with the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs will result in more work programmes and improved agricultural productivity.
3.15.2 While many offenders were involved in work activities at Leeuwkop, Rustenburg, and Pretoria, the numbers remain low. This is partly owing to the DCS’ difficulty in attracting and retaining artisans, but also to a certain degree, owing to the inappropriate use of facilities. Offenders that have maximum security classification are not permitted to work, and therefore where centres on agricultural land are used to accommodate such offenders, agricultural work programmes can for instance not be offered. It was also reported that offenders are more interested in learning trades, and participating in programmes other than agriculture-based ones.
PART FOUR: RECOMMENDATIONS
4.1 Maintenance and Facilities
4.1.1 As mentioned above and in the Committee’s May 2010 oversight report, poor maintenance and infrastructural weaknesses compromise security as well as the humane detention of sentenced and unsentenced offenders. The Committee, aware of the complexities inherent in the DCS’ relationship with the DPW, nevertheless emphasises its dissatisfaction with the delay in the finalisation of the long overdue DCS-DPW SLA. The SLA is a blueprint for how resources will be spent in order to maintain assets such as buildings and equipment for example. The absence of such an SLA and maintenance plans for each centre, reflects poor management nationally, which in turn is echoed at centre-level. In addition to ensuring those maintenance needs that fall within its scope are addressed immediately, the DCS, because it is charged with the safe and humane detention of inmates, must ensure that serious maintenance issues are reported immediately, and that the necessary pressure is applied to ensure their speedy resolution. The National Commissioner must, by 28 February 2011, provide the Committee with the DCS’ assessment of the draft SLA, clear timeframes for when any negotiations to amend it will be finalised as well as an indication of when the SLA will be signed.
4.1.2 Concerns about the DCS’ apparent nonchalance in the awarding of contracts to service providers remain. The visit revealed numerous instances where vast amounts of money were paid to service providers who essentially failed to deliver the products/services they undertook to deliver e.g the tautwire fence at the Durban Westville Correctional Centre, the under-floor heating system at Ebongweni Super-Maximum Correctional Centre and the shoddy IT installation at the New Kimberley Correctional Centre. The DCS appears to take little care to ensure that safeguards protecting it from poor service provision are built into contracts. The DCS must ensure that service providers that have delivered sub-standard services are reported to the relevant authorities so that they suffer the necessary penalties and, where necessary, are prohibited from doing business with the State.
4.1.3 The DCS and DPW’s failure to address matters such as lowering sewer lines with the urgency they demand, points to a total disregard for the human dignity of both inmates detained and officials working in centres where water quality is compromised, there is poor ventilation and occupational health and safety standards are not met. While all maintenance matters should be addressed as soon as they arise, matters that can compromise the health and safety of officials and inmates should be treated as emergencies e.g. the lowering of sewer lines at Durban Westville and Ebongweni Correctional Centre.
4.1.4 Despite the New Kimberley Correctional Centre having been filled almost to its full capacity, construction was still underway at the time of the visit. The DCS and DPW should provide a detailed report on all construction-related matters that are still outstanding, including the addition of toilets in the hospital wards, when they will be finalised as well as the related cost implications.
4.1.5 While the Committee believes the entire Leeuwkop juvenile centre wholly unsuitable for the accommodation of offenders, it realises that pending the total renovation of the centre or the construction of a new centre, inmates will be housed there. The excuse that because the structure is temporary and that therefore its maintenance cannot be prioritised, is unacceptable. The DCS should ensure that maintenance challenges rendering the facility even more inhumane should be addressed as a matter of urgency i.e. broken windows should be repaired, a suitable solution to the dining arrangement should be found and the repair of the cold room and boiler should be prioritised.
4.1.5 The Committee welcomes the Gauteng region’s discussions around the construction of an exclusively female centre that would cater to the needs of female offenders, the biggest concentration of which are found in that region. Such a centre would also provide adequate care to mothers incarcerated with their babies, thus minimising the impact of incarceration on babies born in detention. The DCS should provide the Committee with regular updates on progress made in ensuring better conditions of incarceration for female offenders, including those incarcerated with their babies.
4.1.6 The DPW and DCS should explore all possibilities available to them for resuscitating the Leeuwkop New Generation Correctional Centre. An update on this exercise, as well as the progress made in the construction of the four additional new generation correctional centres should be provided by 31 March 2011.
4.2 Human Resources Management
4.2.1 The Committee reiterates its support of the DCS’ migration to a 7DE and the consequent phasing out of overtime but remains convinced that the apparent universal implementation of a 2x12 shift system short-sighted and ill-advised. The number of concerns raised by staff around compromised security and the impact staff shortages have on case flow management are matters of extreme concern. The Committee had in May recommended that the DCS should, as a matter of urgency, perform an audit of each centre’s staffing requirements to ensure that the shift system used at each centre is specific to that centre’s needs i.e. ensures maximum security of both inmates and staff and does not compromise service delivery. The outcome of this exercise and remedial action taken should be submitted to the Committee by 31 March 2010.
4.2.2 Allegations of intimidation of those officials who have complained to the Committee are viewed in a very serious light and will not be tolerated. The allegations made during the visits echoed the numerous written correspondence to the same effect received from staff since the Committee took office. The relevant Human Resource policies governing sexual harassment, leave, performance management, disciplinary proceedings and whistle blowing should be strictly adhered to. The flouting of these policies does not only impact on staff morale and service delivery, but also has a negative impact on the DCS’ image when its actions and decisions are successfully challenged.
4.2.3 The delegation was appalled by the blatant and shameless misrepresentation of facts, and disrespect shown to Members of Parliament, by some officials during the visit. As mentioned in previous oversight reports, persistent allegations of official-collusion in escapes and other breaches, officials’ vicious assaults and torture of inmates, absenteeism, ill-discipline and corruption, emphasise the need for intensified training around the role and conduct of the ideal correctional official, as defined by in the the White Paper on Corrections. Retraining of old staff, and the training of new recruits should be prioritised, and should focus on instilling in officials ”an attitude of serving with excellence, a principled way of relating to others, and above all a just and caring attitude” (White Paper, Paragraph 8.2.3).
4.3 Conditions of incarceration
4.3.1 At all centres visited inmates complained of their queries and grievances not being responded to. It is vital to ensure that complaints are addressed, and where frustrations are the result of misinformation, inmates are informed of their rights and the limitations to those rights. Failure to respond to complaints regarding treatment and conditions of incarceration, increase frustration and as was proven by the 3 August riot at the New Kimberley Correctional Centre, pose a threat to security.
4.3.2 The JICS is charged with monitoring the conditions of incarceration and ensuring that these are humane and not in violation of the law, and DCS policies. Interactions with inmates on site visits as well as written and telephonic appeals to the Committee reveal much inconsistency in how policies are applied, violation of laws and in many cases very poor conditions of incarceration. While these allegations confirm existing concerns about the DCS service delivery, they also draw attention to the JICS’ limited capacity to impact positively on conditions of incarceration. As the JICS plays a major role in ensuring humane detention, all measures aimed at strengthening it, including a legislative review, should be investigated. The National Commissioner must, by 28 February 2010, provide a progress report on the DCS’ exploration of ways in which the JICS’ can be allocated its own budget and be sufficiently resourced to perform the functions it is mandated to perform.
4.4 Vulnerable categories of inmates
4.4.1 Although children should ideally not be incarcerated in correctional centres, where there is no other option, all children under the age of 18, and juveniles between the ages of 18 and 24 must, in terms of the law, be accommodated separately from each other, and the adult population. This appears to be applied inconsistently and is a matter of extreme concern as it poses a threat to the safety of both child and juvenile offenders. The JCPS cluster should take joint responsibility for ensuring that ages are verified, and the DCS must ensure that child, juvenile and adult offenders are accommodated separately.
4.4.2 As stated in previous reports, the Committee accepts that, other than in exceptional cases, child offenders should not be incarcerated, and that the provision of education and other programmes is not the DCS’ responsibility. It must be emphasised however, that where children are in its care, the DCS must collaborate with stakeholders that share the responsibility of caring for delinquent children, in order to ensure that their needs are met, and that incarceration does not further damage them. It is hoped that the Child Justice Act, operational since April 2010, will result in greater co-ordination of such efforts. The DCS must provide quarterly updates on the number of children in incarceration, the length of their sentences as well as efforts made to divert them to alternative sentences/places of safety.
4.4.3 The Committee welcomes the transfer of mothers incarcerated with their babies from the Pretoria Female Centre to the more appropriate Johannesburg Correctional Centre. Efforts to establish a correctional centre specifically for women, and those incarcerated with their babies, should be redoubled in order to ensure that this category of offenders, and particularly the babiesdetained with their mothers, receive appropriate care.
4.4.4 Far too many remand detainees are remain in detention simply because they cannot afford bail or fines set by courts. Considering that it costs approximately R198 per day to accommodate an offender, detaining persons with fines or bail amounts as little as R300 and who have committed petty crimes and do not pose a threat to society for any period is unjustifiable. The DCS, though not solely responsible for the high number of remand detainees in its centres, must spearhead interventions aimed at lowering the remand population, as it is feeling its impact most, and therefore the Committee welcomes the Correctional Matters Amendment Bill currently before it, as it seeks, amongst others to improve the management of remand detainees. The DCS should ensure that HCCs make use of section 63A of the Criminal Procure Act allowing them to apply for the release of suspects on a warning rather than bail, or to have their bail conditions changed. The JCPS should also encourage the use of plea-bargaining processes available to it.
4.5 Care, Development, Rehabilitation and Reintegration programmes
4.5.1 The DCS is experiencing a severe shortage of staff that play key roles in rehabilitation efforts i.e social workers, psychologists, educators and artisans to run vocational workshops, teach inmates etc. The continued small budget allocations to the rehabilitation, care and development, and reintegration programmes further jeopardise successful roll out of rehabilitation efforts. As recommended in previous reports on the DCS’ budge , the budget must be aligned with its rehabilitation and reintegration objectives. The DCS must reconsider and increase its targets for developmental interventions and make the requisite allocations to its Care and Development, Social Reintegration and Corrections programmes. These programmes are integral to the reduction of recidivism, which is the only measure for determining the DCS’ success in “correcting” offending behaviour and rehabilitating offenders.
4.5.2 The 5% reduction in the correctional sentence plan (CSP) backlog envisaged for the 2009/10 financial year is woefully low and reflects the DCS’ lack of commitment to providing all offenders with the CSPs that will map their rehabilitation. Oversight visits, and JICS reports reveal that participation in rehabilitation, education and development programmes, even where sentence plans have been compiled, remain extremely low. In the absence of true commitment to sentence planning it is clear that the DCS will not be able to meet its rehabilitation objectives, and that the culture of using correctional centres to ‘warehouse’ offenders, resulting repeat-offending, is likely to continue. The DCS should, as a matter of urgency, develop a strategy for the fast-tracking of the development and implementation of sentence plans. Such a strategy should draw on all resources available to address the backlog, including close cooperation with non-government organisations and other relevant stakeholders with expertise in the area. The DCS’ quarterly reports to the Committee must include updates on progress made in this regard.
4.5.3 The new generation centres are designed specifically to give life to the rehabilitation and reintegration ideals contained in the White Paper on Corrections. These projects are embarked upon at great expense, and therefore the DCS should ensure that they are managed and staffed by personnel suffienctly experienced and capable to ensure that offenders at these centres enjoy maximum benefit of these resources. The new generation correctional centres should ideally be used for the nincarceration of young, medium security offenders, women and those serving short sentences.
4.5.4 The August oversight visit emphasised that the DCS continues to perform poorly in providing care to ill inmates thus violating its mandate, and exposing itself to costly legal challenges. As stated in previous reports, the oft-repeated excuse that owing to its inability to recruit and retain medical professionals, the DCS cannot provide medical attention to those in its care, is no longer acceptable. The DCS should be at the forefront of collaborative efforts to provide better health care to inmates, improve the recruitment and retention of medical professionals, and where necessary explore creative interim measures to ensure that inmates’ medical needs are met.
4.6 Correctional Supervision and Parole
4.6.1 The Committee welcomes the work done by the Ministerial Task Teams appointed to assess the current status of parole, particularly those cases where offenders have not been considered for parole despite having served their minimum periods, as well as the parole status of “lifers”. As those sentenced before 2004 are subject to different parole conditions to those sentenced post 2004, the DCS should ensure that all offenders have access to information about, and understand the parole processes applicable to them, and everything should be done to ensure that no one remains in incarceration beyond what is absolutely required.
4.6.2 The Committee regrets that the new CSPB chairpersons and vice chairpersons have not yet been appointed. These appointments should take place as soon as possible, and efforts should be made to ensure that CSPBs are well-resourced thus ensuring that they are able to perform the duties effectively. In addition the DCS should drastically improve its planning so as to ensure that the processes preceding the appointment of statutory bodies are completed in good time.
4.6.3 The practice of deploying officials charged with case management to security duties as the need arises, should be avoided as this impacts negatively on case flow management, and the parole process as a whole. The laborious process of compiling case files manually should be streamlined and computerised to ensure greater efficiency and limit opportunities for human error.
4.6.4 HCCs have powers to approve parole for eligible inmates serving sentences of two years or less. The DCS must submit a report detailing the extent to which HCCs apply these, and the numbers of offenders that have been paroled as a result thereof, by 31 March 2011.
4.7.1 As on previous visits, inmates raised a number of concerns regarding the DCS application of its transfer policy. The Committee remains concerned about the large number of inmates who are being transferred without explanation or being given opportunity to notify their families. Denying inmates, particularly children and juveniles, opportunity to inform their relatives/guardians of their whereabouts cuts them off from the social networks and possible support systems vital to reintegration efforts. Section 6 of the Correctional Services Act (1998) compels the DCS to ensure that all sentenced and unsentenced inmates notify their next-of-kin of their incarceration and/or transfer, and should be strictly adhered to.
4.8 Increased inmate labour and self sufficiency
4.8.1 As on its previous oversight visits, the Committee was struck by the high level of inmate inactivity. Save for the few engaged in vocational and educational programmes, inmates spend most of their days in often severely overcrowded cells. Most alarmingly this was the case at both the Rustenburg Juvenile Correctional Centre of as well as the New Kimberley Correctional Centre which was designed specifically to provide the necessary vocational and educational programmes envisaged in the White Paper on Corrections. The Committee remains an ardent advocate of inmate labour which it believes will not only curb idleness, but could, if managed well, result in greater self-sufficiency at centre level. More inmates should be involved in productive activities for the greater part of the day. The Committee recognises that the current legislation places certain limitations on the DCS’ ability to enforce participation in work and educational programmes, and recommends that future reviews of the legislation consider these sections carefully to ensure greater productivity on the part of offenders.
4.8.2 While it acknowledges the potential security risk when involving inmates in work activities, the Committee believes that with adequate management, inmate labour could assist in increasing the DCS’ self-sufficiency, lowering some of its operational costs, particularly in those areas that are currently being outsourced. Correctional centre-based farms, factories and workshops should be utilised fully. The skills and work ethic developed through work programmes will further rehabilitation and reintegration objectives. The Committee recommends that the DCS explores the conversion of some of its centres to “centres of expertise” specialising in certain trades or agricultural activities thus enabling the optimal use of limited resources, and the more equitable distribution of work programmes.
4.9 Profiling of inmates
4.9.1 The DCS should prioritise the profiling and re-classification of inmates at the New Kimberley Correctional Centre. Wrongful classification exposes first-time and petty offenders to abuse by, and the influence of, serious maximum security offenders as well as a prison gangs, thus negatively impacting on their rehabilitation. As centres’ security measures differ depending on the profile of the inmates meant to be detained there, mixing categories of offenders could result in serious breaches, as was apparently the case during the 3 August riot at the New Kimberley Correctional Centre. The DCS should ensure proper profiling of offenders, ensuring that habitual and serious offenders incarcerated in centres not used for the inacarceration of first time offenders. As a further precautionary measure, the DCS should ensure that known gang members are separated from those offenders not involved in gang activity.
The Committee expresses its appreciation to the regional management of the DCS’ Limpopo/Mpumalanga/North West, Kwazulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Free State/Northern Cape and Gauteng regions, and especially the management and staff at the centres visited, for their co-operation during the visits.
Report to be noted