MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE ACTING NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, MS. NONTSIKELELO JOLINGANA, FOLLOWING A VISIT ON 9TH OCTOBER 2013 TO THE MANGAUNG CORRECTIONAL CENTRE OPERATED AND MANAGED BY G4S.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you are all aware, the safety, and security, situation at the Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC), operated by G4S, has remained under public scrutiny for a while. The relationship between the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and G4S (the contractor) is governed by the Concession Contract, which details services to be rendered, as well as minimum compliance requirements, in fulfilment of the contract.
Over the past few weeks, we have consciously refused to be involved in the labour relations aspects between the contractor and employees of the contractor.
We remain concerned about the safety, and security, of inmates, and officials, especially in the wake of the recent stabbing, and hostage, incidents. Over the past few weeks, we have continued to monitor developments. We have sent various DCS officials to visit the centre, and assess developments, while affording the contractor an opportunity to resolve the various challenges in terms of the contract.
It has, however, become clear that the situation at the centre is not improving – actually one can confidently say that our assessment of the situation points to a worrying deterioration of safety, and security, at the centre. Our last interaction with a senior representative of G4S, in our further attempt to appreciate the challenges and possible solutions, convinced my team, and I, that the contractor has lost effective control of the facility.
We noted with concern information that, in some instances, the contractor continues to use uncertified security staff to perform custodial duties. In terms of the Act, no employee of the contractor may perform custodial duties unless certified by the National Commissioner.
I have consequently briefed the Minister of Correctional Services on these observations and developments. Based on the information at my disposal, I have accordingly decided that it is appropriate to invoke section 112 of the Correctional Services Act (Act 111 of 1998) as amended. Section 112 (a) of the Act reads as follows:
(a) “If in the opinion of the National Commissioner in consultation with the Minister: –
(i) The Director has lost, or is likely to lose, effective control of a public-private partnership correctional centre or any part of it and
(ii) If it is necessary, in the interest of safety and security to take control of such correctional centre or part of it
He or she may appoint a Temporary Manager to act as the head of that correctional centre and may replace custody officials with correctional officials to the extent necessary.
In terms of this provision, I have decided to appoint Mr. ZI Modise (Regional Commissioner: Gauteng) as person in charge of the facility in terms of the said Act. Regional Commissioner Modise will be supported by a team of senior DCS officials with expertise, and experience, in various areas of corrections management including offender management programmes, health care, security and others. In terms of this intervention, the Regional Commissioner will discharge his responsibilities as Head of the MCC. The Contractor is obliged, in terms of the Act, to ensure full cooperation, and assistance, to the appointed Head.
We are fully aware that the situation at the centre is tense and volatile, and we are under no illusion that returning the centre to normality will not be an easy task. Indeed, we take note of the fact that the matter of the dismissed employees remains a matter between the employer (G4S) and its employees. We will, however, continue to assess the staff issues as they have a direct impact on the ability to ensure safety, and security, in this centre. I will be advised on further developments in this regard by the joint team.
Lastly, this intervention takes place as our entire organization prepares itself for Operation Vala. Operation Vala is a period where DCS reinforces its security measures to address a range of security issues. We, therefore, view this intervention as part of our continuing efforts to improve safety, and security, in our facilities, and contribute towards ensuring that the people of South Africa are, and feel, safe! We will continue to monitor security in all our 243 correctional centres.