House Chair, managing crime and criminals is not an easy task. However, South Africa is fortunate in that this responsibility is not just for government alone, but for the whole nation, because crime has become a major and national stress factor inside and outside prisons.
As a member who recently joined the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services, it soon became clear to me that the relationship between the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, Jics, and the department and its executives is not fully functional.
The department seems "unsuitable" to Jics and does not take the recommendations or the work of Jics seriously. Yet Jics sees where the gaps exist and where they should be filled in the entire operation of the department. The inspectorate's duty is to ensure that every human right of people in our correctional centres is protected.
Cope echoes Jics's call that the Department of Correctional Services should not be notorious for segregation in prisons, the selective transfer of inmates, deaths in prisons, torture and assault by officials, pathetic medical care and controversial parolees. The relationship between the National Council for Correctional Services and Jics must be streamlined. As such, the Act must be amended. However, over the years the work of Jics has been stifled, because they rely on the very same Minister with whom they have issues relating to the implementation of their recommendations. That is an untenable situation.
Cope recognises the need to rewrite the Correctional Services Act. Chapter 9 of the Correctional Services Act of 1998 provides for the establishment of Jics as an independent entity, managed by an inspecting judge, according to section 85(1) of this Act. So, Jics was created by an Act of Parliament and should report their activities to Parliament directly, without fear of interference from the Minister.
Cope recognises that, according to section 91 of the Correctional Services Act, the Department of Correctional Services is responsible for Jics's expenses. Cope would like to see the separation of financial authorities in order to guarantee the independence of Jics. Cope would also like to see Jics's financial independence rectified through the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which South Africa is a signatory.
The Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act of 2009 provides for, among other things, a parliamentary procedure to amend Money Bills, thus granting parliamentary committees greater opportunity to sway the allocation of funds directly to Jics through section 5. Jics falls right within this call.