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.