Members of the media, ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to share with you some insights on the Department Correctional Services (DCS) budget vote.
DCS has committed itself to the provision of humane custody and the rehabilitation offenders before placing them back into society. Hence, the impact of correctional and rehabilitation programmes remains the epitome of this department. In the implementation of 11 correctional programmes, we have trained over 380 correctional intervention officials which has resulted in 69 000 offenders, serving at least 24 month sentences, completing the intervention programmes.
Yet again, we are reporting an improvement on the parolee and probationer compliance levels which is standing at 98% in both cases. Considering that in the 2013/14 financial year we reported a compliance rate of 84,89%, this strengthens the much needed trust in the system poised to increase the numbers of non-custodial sentencing by the judiciary.
Issues related to security have been attracting negative publicity for the department. We have conducted a number of raids, cleaning our facilities of contraband items, yet more is still needed. It is for this reason that we are now installing cellphone detection technology.
We have completed staff training in seven correctional centres, and we are now dealing with the big five. In addition, the Department of Health has granted us a licence to install body cavity scanners. Installation has already started in Johannesburg, St .Albans, Pollsmoor and Kgosi Mampuru II.
We are in a process of establishing an integrated inmate management system (IIMS). This system will give us a single capture and view point of all inmate and offender information in all correctional centres, including the 228 community corrections offices across the country.
We have appointed 30 executive and senior managers, prioritising scarce and critical skills so that we can break the cycle of crime through safe custody, rehabilitation and social reintegration. Operation Hira assisted us to sustain a vacancy rate of 9.5%, driving the mass recruitment of doctors, engineers, nurses, psychologists, social workers and artisans. In the same breath, a total of 3034 learners are at different stages of their basic training as part of three Correctional Services Learnership groups.
Important to note is that we have provided a lifeline to thousands of unemployed youth, including 14 child-headed households. We are giving hope for a better life for many destitute households. Plans are afoot for a further recruitment of 2064 learners in the 2016/17 financial year.
The youth in our country is hungry for opportunities. All of us have a responsibility to create a favourable future, and find means to prevent them from committing crime. We have taken practical steps by means of offering solutions to the challenge of youth unemployment, poverty, inequality and their entrapment in the vicious cycle of crime.
We are utilising the expertise developed internally across the 243 correctional centers, to empower youth at risk of committing crime. This relates to technical skills development, food production and processing expertise to give hope for young people.
There is testimony that our skills development and rehabilitation programmes are indeed working. We are able to showcase pockets of excellence among ex-offenders who used their skills effectively upon release. I have invited amongst others, Nathi Mankanyi, who has become a successful artist after serving his time in our care.
Lwandile Sityata is also my special guest, holding the WBA, WBO, WBF and IBO Championships. With positive attitude, our programmes are able to produce Champions.
Case flow management is being improved significantly in our courts. Reducing children in custody in line with the Child Justice Act is also progressing well. We have moved from 4126 children in 2003 to only 288 in 2015. This is a 93 percent improvement. Provision of yellow uniform for the remand detainees is also going well, currently standing at 86 percent. R35 million is allocated for the completion of this project in this financial year.
We have commissioned research projects with the University of Limpopo and UNISA respectively to study the impact of our Sex Offender Treatment Programme and Substance Abuse Treatment Programme. The results will be instrumental in terms of redesigning intervention programmes and effectively responding to the growing numbers of sex offenders in our facilities.
We also received R15.9 million from the National Skills Fund which will be used to enhance the provision of technical, vocational and occupational skills to offenders. A total of 1732 offenders successfully completed their programmes and will be graduating in June 2016. A recent testimony to this is a case of Boksburg Correctional Centre where on Tuesday last week (26 April) 25 artisan offenders graduated.
Allow me to acknowledge a small but profound contribution of Talk Radio 702, which secured a job for one of the inmates recently graduated from Boksburg Correctional Centre. We want to see more of these example out there. Indeed, corrections is a societal responsibility and all of us have to make a positive contribution in giving ex-offenders a second chance in life. I always request ex-offenders to disclose their past honestly when applying for employment.
A number of stakeholder consultation forums to review the parole system have begun. It is important that we professionalise the work of our parole boards as this will improve the country’s parole administration. We are also introducing a tool that will monitor compliance with the Correctional Services Act. This will make it possible that we come up with interventions which will ensure overall performance improvement and better response to our challenges.
It is important to state that for too long, the victim of crime has been left out of the criminal justice system somewhat. I am currently reviewing the effectiveness of the Service Charter for Victims of Crime and the Minimum Standards with the view of assessing the effectiveness of the Charter in providing support to the victims of crime. To date, we have contracted 63 auxiliary social workers to assist us in the tracing of victims of crime.
Provision of comprehensive primary health care services to all inmates is amongst the best in the first world. Our TB cure rate is standing at 81 percent. Over 19 000 inmates tested for HIV and 97 percent of those with a CD4 count lower than 600 were placed on anti-retro-viral therapy.
The Finance turnaround strategy is being implemented to address concerns from AG and SCOPA. This seeks to transform our department into an effective, compliant and service focused institution. The aim is to resolve governance and internal control failures, and achieve a clean audit in the foreseeable future.
The Department is allocated R21.577 billion for the 2016/17 financial year. The nominal allocations for Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration will increase by 26.6% and 18% respectively over the medium term expenditure framework. Budget allocation for Rehabilitation will increase from R1.217 billion in 2016/17 to R1.541 billion in 2018/19. Social Reintegration will increase from R807 million to R954 million over the same period.
As I earlier indicated our commitment towards improving correctional intervention programmes, the department will re-prioritise within compensation of employees budget of the Incarceration programme to allocate R193.4 million in 2016/17, R206.6 million in 2017/18 and R220.6 million in 2018/19 in order to capacitate the case management committees.
It is worth mentioning that the department has received an unqualified report on Assets for the first time in many years. Yes, there are areas that require some attention and we are working towards improving the accuracy of performance information.
In order to improve the capacity of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, we have appointed Justice Johann van der Westhuizen. His wealth of knowledge, experience and insight will help us speed up the transformation towards a real people’s developmental correctional system.
Correctional Services is transforming. We have moved away from the regime of punishment and placed emphasis on enhancing human development, where restorative justice is respected.
The National Development Plan requires that the criminal justice system must ensure that all people in South Africa are and feel safe. We have structured our budget in a manner that will ensure there is relevant and effective rehabilitation of inmates to empower them with skills to survive the outside world and curb the scourge of re-offending once they leave our correctional facilities.
The responsibility is huge, yet encouraging. We rely on you to tell the world on the ground-breaking developments we continue to unleash in this regard. Hold us accountable and let us continue to engage as we move South Africa forward.
I thank you.
SOURCE: South African Government