Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has warned Correctional Officials that crime and corruption will not be tolerated.
Addressing Department of Correctional Services (DCS) staff today (28 August) at DCS head office in Pretoria, during the launch of new Identification (ID) Cards for Correctional Officials, the Minister told officials that their behaviour has a direct influence on offenders.
“We will not tolerate crime, and corruption, by officials of the Department. Our behaviour has a direct influence on the lives of offenders. Last Wednesday (21 August), a DCS official, Mr. Francis Moikutlwi Kwela (38) who was employed at our Legal Services Directorate, was sentenced to five years imprisonment after he was dismissed for fraud amounting to R1,823,393,10. Another official is still to stand trial in the same case. This matter has now been handed over to the Asset Forfeiture Unit for recovery. Last Sunday (25 August), an official was arrested at Baviaanspoort for allegedly trying to smuggle dagga into the centre. On 19 August, Mr. Tebogo Israel Ratsoma, from Baviaanspoort Management Area, was ambushed, and gunned down, whilst retuning from work. We call upon the Police to leave no stone unturned in these investigations, and to ensure that the perpetrators face the consequences of their actions.
“DCS is an integral part of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster. The White Paper on Corrections reminds us that ‘Security relates to the appreciation, through vigilance, of the need to ensure the safety of employees, offenders and the community. Employees of the Department of Correctional Services are expected to always remember that their work has a major security component, and therefore reckless activities or disclosure of information that could subject a fellow employee, an offender or a member of the public to harm, must be avoided.’
“I am also contented that this major accomplishment occurs this year which we have appropriately declared ‘The Year of the Correctional Official’. As South Africa marks a break with identity documents that were prone to identity theft, DCS has also taken the first crucial step in issuing secure identification to our staff – which is not susceptible to identity fraud. We must all work hard to ensure that this project succeeds, and that we embrace these ID cards with the honour, and pride, that our Correctional Services profession deserves. These cards should resonate with the DCS core values, and should speak to our collective identity as a Department which takes seriously its work, and legal mandate, of public safety, restorative justice and offender rehabilitation.
“Corrections is a strict, multi-faceted profession. As we issue these cards today, we should bear in mind the Department’s core business: rehabilitation through correction and human development in secure, safe and humane detention or under community-based correctional supervision. Society correctly expects the Department to secure it from those that our courts have found to have transgressed against its laws. Our responsibility is to enforce sentences handed down by the courts. Further, our Constitution requires us to deliver on the correction, and development, of offenders. In other words, the rehabilitation of offenders and secure, safe and orderly custody are two sides of the same coin. For us, security refers to all those services, rendered by the Department, aimed at ensuring the provision of safe, and healthy, conditions consistent with human dignity for all persons under our care, while providing protection for our personnel, security for the public as well as ensuring the safety of persons under our care. The balance between security, control and justice is the responsibility of all correctional officials and managers.
“The implementation of the policy on ID Cards will certainly go a long way in minimising security breaches, especially at our Correctional Centres, because of the exceptional security features which are the DNA of these cards. The cards, however, in and of themselves, will not guarantee security for anyone. It is the majority of our officials, who detest crime and corruption, who will ensure that, through these cards, the Department continues to improve its profile in its core business of safe custody, and rehabilitation, of offenders.
“Section 5 of the White Paper on Corrections also reminds us that correctional management is essentially about the management of human beings, both staff and offenders. The key to effective correctional management lies in the relationship between these two groups. Those who occupy managerial positions need to look beyond technical, and managerial, considerations. They should also be leaders capable of inspiring their staff, with a sense of responsibility and pride, in the way that they carry out their daily tasks.
“This event today further marks the implementation of the White Paper on Corrections. Indeed, we are on a journey towards building an appealing, strong corporate identity for this dynamic organisation which society has entrusted with the responsibility for both public safety, and rehabilitation, of offenders. The uniforms that the officials of the Department wear, as well as the new ID cards we are issuing today, are identified in the policy as being at the centre of the new envisaged Correctional Official and our corporate identity.
“Section 8(13) of the White Paper reads thus: It is important that the Department has a clear approach to uniform, insignia, command and control, and the role of all members as ‘rehabilitators’. The Department’s approach in this regard must map out a comprehensive identification package that will affect both officials and offenders in a manner that is supportive of the legal mandate of the Department. Central to this approach is a deliberate focus on the overall cultural identity of personnel as strategic agents of behavioural change of offenders, as well as the cultural identity of offenders as people who are expected to change from being offenders into responsible nation servers.
“During this Year of the Correctional Official, may we all re-dedicate ourselves to serve our country unselfishly by fully participating in the correctional programmes of our Department. May our roles, responsibilities and functions in society resonate with one word – Excellence. May these new cards, that we will be receiving today, also symbolise new vows in our united fight against crime, and our renewed efforts at the rehabilitation of offenders and their successful reintegration into society. To the thousands of Correctional Officials across the breadth and length of our country, we care deeply about you and we appreciate your individual, and collective, efforts in the reconstruction, and development, of our country. With the launch of this ID card project at Head Office today, we re-iterate that Corrections is a vital, honourable and noble career to be followed by those who do not give up on their fellow human beings. Our country needs all of us. Let us continue in the fight against drugs, gangsterism and the abuse of women, children and the elderly. In everything we do, let us remember that we are servants of the people. May this Department be a beacon of hope, and a shining example of a lived experience of the principles of Batho Pele,” the Minister said.