Minister Ndebele was addressing the DCS Executive Management Committee Meeting (EMS) in Johannesburg today (12 November 2012). The EMS comprises of the National Commissioner (Director-General) and 14 Chief Deputy Commissioners (Deputy Directors-General), including Regional Commissioners.
Delivering his address, Minister Ndebele said: “Today marks exactly five months since I joined the Correctional Services Family on 12 June 2012. We must appreciate the fact that by now we must have a clear Roadmap for the Department of Correctional Services, so that we can all address some of the key corrections challenges in order to ensure a better South Africa. But most importantly, we need to critically look at those areas where we are not performing well and find the best solutions going forward.
“Gathered here are those from the Department of Correctional Services Family who make critical decisions, which have an impact on our peoples’ lives. I have no doubt that this composition of senior managers possess the capabilities to deliver on our mandate as part of the JCPS Cluster. Our people do not have much time to listen to what our policies and strategies say about important elements of their lives. They just want delivery. As we enter 2013, we must pay attention to specific issues including improved financial management, fraud and corruption, performance agreements and assessments, improved information gathering, improved relations with staff and organised labour and communication.
“As stated in the White Paper on Corrections, the ideal Correctional Official should embody the values that DCS hopes to instil in the offender, as it is this official who is to assist and facilitate the rehabilitation processes of the offender. An attitude of serving with excellence, a principled way of relating to others and, above all, a just and caring attitude are essential ingredients of the behaviour of a Correctional Official. Corrections is an integral part of the Integrated Criminal Justice System, and the value chain in the fight against crime and criminality. We have moved away from the legacy of the past, of serving solely as an instrument of retribution, to actively pursuing lasting solutions to the societal challenge that is crime by showing those in conflict with the law that there are alternatives to a life of criminality and self-destruction.
“The World Prison Brief places South Africa in the top ten in terms of our inmate population. South Africa has 51,8-million citizens, but our rate of imprisonment is the highest in Africa. Nigeria, the continent’s most densely populated country with 166,3-million people, has 51,560 inmates with 31 inmates for every 100,000 of its people. South Africa sits at number nine worldwide with 310 inmates for every 100,000 of its people. Overcrowding is perhaps the single most pressing concern facing prisons around the world. To this end, we will host a colloquium on 19 and 20 November 2012 with various key stakeholders to discuss overcrowding, alternative sentencing as well as the draft White Paper on Remand Detention Management in South Africa.
“We are also embarking on Victim-Offender Dialogues. The main thrust of this programme is to contribute to a safer South Africa, through promoting family unity and stronger community systems, as well as victim support and empowerment, while pursuing the rehabilitation of those incarcerated through well-managed rehabilitation programmes. We must ensure that rehabilitation programmes impact the hearts, heads and hands of offenders. We want to create opportunities where various stakeholders defined as victims of crime, those affected personally, their families, communities, community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, religious and spiritual bodies, educators, councillors and local leaders, will assemble together with offenders with a single purpose to rebuild our communities ravaged by crime.
“It is very important that we work together as a team and yield sound, and objective, results that do not only glorify our image as the staff of the Department of Correctional Services – but have a meaningful impact on the lives of our citizens, particularly offenders. I am confident that this team is well equipped, and talented, to drive the kind of workforce that is needed to take the corrections challenges to a higher level of decision-making, which is solution oriented. We have a very long way to go in addressing several challenges, and it is us here who must come up with brilliant strategies and implement them. I wish you all the best in implementing our 2013 corrections plans. Working together, we can do more,” the Minister said.
Later today (12 November), the Minister will convene his second meeting with the National Council for Correctional Services (NCCS) in Johannesburg. The NCCS, currently chaired by Judge Siraj Desai, is a statutory body, appointed in terms of Section 83 and 84 of the Correctional Services Act (Act 111 of 1998). Its primary purpose is to provide advice in terms of policy, with regards to the correctional system and the sentencing process.