The defining trait of the Department of Correctional Services since 1998 has been the rehabilitation of sentenced offenders and the successful reintegration of offenders back into society as law abiding citizens. The crucial question is how effective has the rehabilitation been and how successful the reintegration?
The IFP is concerned that not much has happened in this division to give one assurances that the Department is fully committed to rehabilitation. Let us consider the budget for instance. When one considers monies allocated to incarceration in comparison to monies allocated to rehabilitation, the picture is bleak.
For the year 2016/17 R13, 700.8 million has been allocated to incarceration whereas rehabilitation received only R1, 217, 3 million. The estimates for 2017/18 indicated that R14, 5 billion has been earmarked for incarceration whereas only 1.4 billion is estimated for rehabilitation for 2016/17. The budget for integration back into to society is even smaller, being R807.8 million in 2016/17 and R901 million in 2017/18. Contrary to the transformation that was mooted in 1998 it appears that rehabilitation is not a priority in this department.
One must bear in mind that rehabilitation reintroduction means restoring the offenders to a society that believes in working hard in order to earn a living, this is not the case in our correctional facilities. Offenders live their lives like guests in a hotel, and they never engage in any ‘household chores’. Accordingly when these offenders are reintroduced into society, earning a living becomes a foreign concept to them hence the very many repeat offenders.
Many of the offenders that are rehabilitated as artisans show a great deal of creativity and innovation. Yet all skills are wasted in the production of toys. These artisans produce toy ships, toy cars, toy furniture, etc. Those who are trained in building should be employed in the building of new prisons and the renovation of dilapidated ones. This would make the department less dependent on the Department of Public Works (DPW) for the construction and maintenance of prisons. After all the DPW has failed to construct or maintain prisons timeously. Moreover once released, these artisans might find gainful employment in the building industry.
Rehabilitated offenders are released into orderly and disciplined society. If the department is serious about reintegration into such society why does it not meaningfully address the problem of violent assault and murder among inmates? While we welcome the introduction of cameras in some prisons which are fraught with criminal behaviour, we see this as too little too late.
The conclusion we reach is that the departmental approach to rehabilitation and reintegration still leaves a great deal to be desired.
The Inkatha Freedom Party supports this budget vote debate.
I Thank you.
Honourable Prof. CT Msimang, MP
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