Pump system too sophisticated
KIMBERLEY’S state-of-the-art Tswelopele Correctional Centre has a water pump system that is too sophisticated for local engineers to repair, resulting in no hot water.
There are also no prisoners in single cells because the locks do not work.
These details emerged during a Select Committee on Security and Justice hearing with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS) to discuss their annual performance plans (APPs) and budgets.
During the hearing, the inspecting judge of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS), Professor Johann van der Westhuizen, referred to “the facility near Kimberley which had a water pump system too sophisticated for local engineers to repair, resulting in no hot water. There was no one in the single cells because the locks did not work.”
Van der Westhuizen expressed alarm over the state of facilities throughout the country, noting that some were state of the art while others were in very bad shape.
Examples of shortages of uniforms and shoes in winter, kitchens not being certified, concrete floors breaking up and ceilings of a cell not fitting, were given, a report on the meeting stated.
He also commented that beds had been taken away to prevent people escaping through ceilings.
“The JICS did not know where the problem was,” the report stated further. “The ongoing refrain from DCS officials on the ground was that the problem lay with the Department of Public Works, but JICS itself had similar problems in its office where it took years for things to be done.”
Problems at facilities were directly tied to overcrowding, violence and gangsterism.
A summary on the meeting stated that the deputy minister expressed concern about the impact of budget cuts on the work of the Department of Correctional Services, particularly given its expanded focus away from prisons and towards correctional services, including rehabilitation and reintegration.
In addition to this, some of the department’s data was not entirely reliable, which also caused problems.
The department’s plans and targets had to be amended due to budget cuts.
Overcrowding in correctional facilities was also flagged as an issue which had a knock-on effect on other areas of the department’s work. The department was unable to employ more officials, and old infrastructure and machinery could not be replaced.
The cuts had also had an impact on some of the department’s production facilities, where it produced items such as food for prisons and provided an opportunity for skills development among offenders.
The delegation from JICS meanwhile elaborated on the impact of budget cuts on their ability to inspect correctional facilities.
It also expressed frustration at the poor state of facilities, noting the role which the Department of Public Works had in the maintenance and construction of the correctional facilities, as well as the offices of both JICS and DCS officials.
Members of the committee focused on the impact of the budget cuts on purchasing equipment and filling vacancies.
Questions were asked regarding the department’s plan should budget cuts persist and how this would impact the work of the department, and staff morale.
The impact of budget cuts on staff to offender ratios was also raised, while the manner in which corruption was being dealt with by the department was also questioned.