The Report below replaces the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services, published in the ATC of 27 Oct, on p 3729:
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on its visit to the Douglas Correctional Centre of Excellence on 8 October 2011, dated 26 October 2011
1.1 Ms F Nyanda, Member of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services (the Committee), supported by the Committee Secretary, Ms C Balie, visited the Douglas Correctional Centre of Excellence (the Centre) on 8 October 2011.
The Centre is
situated in the
There are 36 correctional centres of excellence (CoE) across
1.4 As the Centre had been informed of the visit prior to the delegation’s arrival, the management prepared an orientation briefing, the content of which has been summarised for inclusion in this report.
2.1 The Centre was commissioned in 1977 and was originally designed to cater for both male and female offenders, but, because the admission of female offenders was low, the female units have been converted to accommodate male inmates.
2.2 The Centre can accommodate 297 male inmates, and at the time of the visit, was 92.9% occupied. On the morning of visit there were 162 and 61 sentenced adults and juveniles respectively, with the remand population comprising 39 adults and 13 juveniles.
2.3 The Centre has a staff establishment of 140, and, at the time of the visit, had 15 vacancies, none of which were at managerial level. Of the 125 officials at the centre, 33 were women, none of whom occupied managerial positions. The Centre identified the filling of critical posts as a challenge: at the time of the visit there were 12 custodial vacancies, one social worker vacancy and one control-room operator vacancy.
2.4 The Centre comprises two sections: Emzini – Place of Men, accommodating sentenced offenders, and Kpano - Unity, accommodating remand detainees. Each section is divided into units accommodating adults, juveniles, pre-release offenders, those being assessed, adults and juveniles with further charges, as well as a kitchen and a day-clinic.
2.5 The Centre’s kitchen is in the process of being renovated, and though it was clear that renovations were underway, the delegation was satisfied with its maintenance and cleanliness, as well as with the meals provided.
2.6 Like all correctional centres, the Centre is equipped to provide primary health care. The eight-bed day-clinic is serviced by three professional nurses, as well as a dentist and doctor, who visit the centre once a week.. Those with medical conditions that cannot be managed at centre-level, are referred to the local public hospital.
2.7 The Centre provides education programmes catering for ABET Levels 1 to 4. It had catered for Grade 12, but, since the Department of Basic Education (DBE) introduced the requirement that institutions had to have one educator for each Grade-12 subject, challenges have been experienced. The Centre utilises two small offices as make-shift classrooms; a project to build proper classrooms has been registered.
2.8 The Centre provides a range of psychological, spiritual care, correctional and restorative justice programmes. According to its management, the social worker is able to address inmates’ needs.
2.9 No escapes have been reported since 1997. The Centre has a control room with close circuit cameras, but these are not fully functional: the Sondolo security company had operated the control rooms, but, since the expiry of that contract, the mainframe has not been reactivated. Pending the reactivation, the control room is being manned around the clock. Though the operating contract has expired, Sondolo remains responsible for the maintenance of the security system and television cameras.
2.10 The Centre boasted five hectares of agricultural land yielding approximately eight tons of vegetables per month. In addition to providing for its own needs, the Centre also supplied vegetables to the Tswelopele Correctional Centre.
2.11 Centre management reported that the inmates were kept adequately occupied through agricultural and maintenance activities, as well as through the cleaning of local school-, hospital- and church-grounds, and cemeteries. At the time of the visit sentenced adult and juvenile offenders were cleaning the kitchen and the clinic. The only inmates not participating in work activities are those in remand, and those with further charges against them.
2.12 The delegation was very pleased with the services and facilities reportedly provided to personnel. These included ten houses on the premises, transport for those working night shift, regular training and workshops aimed at improving working relationships. The management identified first-aid, fire-arm and fire-fighting training as challenges.
2.13 The centre had initially suffered challenges when the Seven-Day Establishment was introduced. It experimented with various shift patterns and has since September 2011 operated on a 7 x 5 pattern, which has proven to be more efficient. The “4-days-on, 4-days-off” system had resulted in many problems. Officials now work for ten days, followed by four days off duty, and this has resulted in a reduction in absenteeism.
3.1 Especially as it is a CoE, the Centre should be able to meet inmates’ basic education needs, and therefore the building of classrooms and the recruitment of Grade 12 educators should be prioritised. The DCS should engage the DBE to ensure that requirements that are impractical for correctional centre schools are renegotiated, so as not to deny inmates the education which is one of the cornerstones of rehabilitation and reintegration.
3.2 Though the centre reported no major security-related challenges, the semi-operational control room is a major concern, particularly given the cost associated with its installation. The reactivation of the mainframe should be prioritised and a status report should be provided by 30 November 2011.
3.3 While efforts to keep inmates occupied are applauded, the Centre should ensure that juvenile and adult offenders are separated at all times, even when engaged in work activities.
3.4 The DCS should ensure that all centre-based staff undergo the necessary first-aid, fire-fighting and fire-arm training. Such training is essential for ensuring that medical and other emergencies are stabilised pending the arrival of the relevant emergency support services.
The Committee extends its gratitude to the Tswelopele Correctional Centre and especially its Emergency Security Team, who provided the delegation with transport and ensured their safety for the duration of the visit. The Douglas Correctional Centre management and officials on duty at the time of the visit are also thanked for their co-operation.
Report to be considered.