Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, says the department is pursuing disciplinary action against alleged errant officials “without fear or favour”.

He was speaking during an appearance before the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on Tuesday.

Lamola said the department is investigating and concluding disciplinary processes against those senior managers who committed what he described as “atrocities” in the department.

“When honourable members in unison said Correctional Services must look at matters of irregular expenditure, lack of consequence management for acts of impunity, maladministration, audit reports and performance, we heeded this call.

“In the last financial year, 64 out of 66 cases for officials, charged and found guilty for corrupt activities were concluded. For the same reporting period, under irregular expenditure, the department had a total of 933 cases and 789 of these cases were investigated and concluded. The department is left with a total of 144 cases to conclude for the last financial year.

“We have impressed to the acting National Commissioner [Makgothi Thobakgale] that consequence management must spread across the department without fear or favour,” he said.

The Minister emphasised that the department is acting speedily, within the prescripts of the law, to resolve all disciplinary issues.

“We will not hesitate to take appropriate actions consistent with government prescripts and legislation to foster a new culture of accountability.

“[W]e don’t want prolonged and selective disciplinary processes which ignore atrocities committed by those in senior management in the department. We have directed that turnaround times for investigating and concluding disciplinary process must show significant improvement,” he said.

Self-sufficiency

When addressing correctional facilities and the inmates, Minister Lamola said the department is moving towards making these facilities more independent through the Self-Sufficiency Model.

The model is aimed at using offender labour to produce food for their own rations and generate an income from production workshops.

“In all correctional centres across the country, no more are we procuring eggs and pork as these are internally produced in sufficient quantities, resulting in savings to the fiscus.

“We want to continue on this path to remove as many items as possible from our procurement list. We are working on capacitating centres by obtaining modern technology to realise improved production,” he said.

The Minister revealed that inmates, parolees and probationers have also been roped in to contribute towards various community empowerment initiatives.

“When the dire conditions in which the child-headed Zungu family in…KwaZulu Natal were exposed, offender labour was utilised to transform the family’s dilapidated house into a decent, fully furnished house.

“When acts of vandalism, rampant looting and destruction of properties in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal erupted, probationers and parolees helped to clean most affected areas to allow economic activities to resume.

“When some of the schools in Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Eastern Cape did not have adequate school desks, offender labour was utilised to refurbish desks and chairs to enable learning and teaching to continue in a conducive environment,” he highlighted.

The department’s Self-Sufficiency Model also extends to upskilling inmates with skills that they can use when they leave correctional facilities.

“In the last financial year, offenders were trained in…hairdressing, new venture creations, building and plastering, tiling, welding, painting, furniture and cabinet making, wood machining, textile skills, bricklaying, motor mechanics, plumbing, vegetable production and other agriculture related training. We will be launching a national arts day during the course of this month,” Lamola added.

COVID-19

The Minister said the department is continuing with its vaccination drive which has seen at least 115 000 officials and inmates vaccinated.

According to Lamola, 239 officials and 101 inmates have died due to COVID-19 complications and there are currently 73 active cases of the virus within correctional facilities.

“We are, through various campaigns, working towards eliminating vaccine hesitancy so that we can save lives. Vaccine hesitancy and fear of side effects have been cited by most officials and inmates as reasons for them not availing themselves for vaccination,” he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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