In­spec­torate slams de­part­ment for bud­get cuts


THE Ju­di­cial In­spec­torate for Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices has vented its frus­tra­tions over the uni­lat­eral de­ci­sion taken by the De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices to cut their op­er­a­tional bud­get in a move that will threaten their abil­ity to in­spect pris­ons.

Yes­ter­day, the in­spec­torate briefed the MPs about the poor state of prison fa­cil­i­ties and in­stances where their of­fi­cials were de­nied en­try into pris­ons, in­clud­ing KwaZulu- Na­tal’s Stanger Prison.

They com­plained about the short­age of uni­forms for pris- on­ers and over­crowd­ing as well as the col­lapse of an IT sys­tem that now ham­pered the dart­ment’s manda­tory re­port­ing on in­mates’ deaths.

Brief­ing the jus­tice and cor­rec­tional ser­vices port­fo­lio com­mit­tee, in­spect­ing Judge Jo­hann van der Westhuizen said their op­er­a­tional bud­get, which caters for trav­el­ling for prison in­spec­tions, was cut.

“We don’t un­der­stand why any­body must de­cide we must use less petrol and not visit (pris­ons).”

Van der Westhuizen also said there were in­stances of po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence in their work. “In KwaZulu-Na­tal, we had one or two in­ci­dents where our peo­ple were de­nied en­try to a place by the re­gional com­mis­sioner.”

The in­spect­ing judge said he was wor­ried about the state of some prison fa­cil­i­ties.

“There are fa­cil­i­ties where the ceil­ings are so dan­ger­ous that the way to counter es­capes is to take away beds so peo­ple sleep on the floor so that they can’t reach the ceil­ing.”

“We have a kitchen in Spring­bok that burnt down and has not been re­built.”

The prison court­yard in Stanger that is made out of con­crete was break­ing up.

“You can sim­ply pick up a piece if you need a weapon. There are nu­mer­ous other ex­am­ples,” he told shocked MPs.

The state of the art fa­cil­ity in Kim­berly, which boasts ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy, did not have hot wa­ter. “The ex­pla­na­tion given is no­body can re­pair the wa­ter pump sys­tem be­cause it is so­phis­ti­cated.”

“They also work with a so­phis­ti­cated com­puter sys­tem and no­body can re­pair them,” he added.

He said there were also pris­ons that were with­out wa­ter. In Tho­hoyan­dou the lo­cal com­mu­nity cut the wa­ter sup­ply be­cause they did not want crim­i­nals to drink their wa­ter.

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