Hon Chairperson, hon members and colleagues; hon Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Adv Ngoako Ramatlhodi; Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services, Mr Vincent Smith and members of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services; the National Commissioner, Mr Tom Moyane, and senior management of the Department of Correctional Services; Judge Vuka Tshabalala; Inspecting Judge, Judge Siraj Desai; other members of the judiciary; officials and offenders; all other members of the Correctional Services family; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the African Union across the world there is consensus that we must seriously rethink the role of Corrections.
As Chair of the African Correctional Services Association, South Africa will use its position to improve the management of correctional centres across the continent.
This department, now known as the Department of Correctional Services, has been in existence for 102 years. Correctional Services marks the end of a life of crime and the beginning of restoration. We must deliver justice to victims as well as ensuring that offenders make restitution to society for their crimes leave correctional centres with better skills and prospects.
The field of corrections is gaining prominence. On 16 May, 45 students from the University of Zululand graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Correctional Studies.
The transformation programme of our democratic government necessitated that prisons shift from being institutions of humiliation to institutions of new beginnings. The White Paper on Corrections represents the final, fundamental break with a past archaic penal system and ushers in the beginning of our second decade of freedom, where prisons become correctional centres of rehabilitation and offenders are given new hope, and encouragement, to adopt a lifestyle that will result in a second chance to become ideal citizens.
Our National Development Plan states, and I quote:
In 2030, people living in South Africa feel safe and have no fear of crime. They are safe at home, at school, at work and they enjoy an active community life free of crime. Women can walk freely in the streets and children can play safely outside ...
According to the Freedom Charter - I was reminded of this by my colleague hon Ndlovu - and I quote:
Imprisonment shall be only for serious crimes against the people, and shall aim at re-education, not vengeance.
He quoted it correctly.
Section 35(2) of the Bill of Rights says:
Everyone who is detained, including every sentenced prisoner, has the right to conditions of detention that are consistent with human dignity, including at least exercise and the provision at state expense of adequate accommodation, nutrition, reading material and medical treatment. According to the latest National Offender Population Profile, the major crime categories are economic, aggressive, sexual and narcotics. As of Monday 27, South Africa's inmate population was 152 514, of which 45 043 were remand detainees and 107 471 were sentenced offenders.
Offenders sentenced to life imprisonment increased from about 400 in 1994 to more than 11 000 in 2013. Foreign nationals comprise 8 973 inmates made up of 4 087 sentenced and 4 886 unsentenced.
In addition, 65 931 offenders are outside correctional centres and living in their respective communities; 48 000 are parolees; 15 000 are probationers; and 1 724 are awaiting trial.
On 19 and 20 November 2012, we hosted a colloquium under the theme, "Towards finding solutions for South Africa's high rate of incarceration and breaking the cycle of crime". All stakeholders, including judges, magistrates and academics, attended. An action plan has since been developed to address recommendations from the colloquium.
The colloquium also consulted on the White Paper on the management of remand detainees, which has been finalised for tabling before the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster director-generals, and is due to be published soon.
On average, 15% to 20% of the 45 043 awaiting trial detainees are in custody because they cannot afford bail. This has resulted in the poorest of the poor being removed from their families, with the associated socioeconomic implications.
The Electronic Monitoring Pilot Project, EMPP, has proven to be economical, effective, efficient and relevant to the broader goals of Department of Correctional Services and the JCPS cluster. Electronic monitoring is now available to the courts, particularly for remand detainees, noncustodial sentences and parolees. At present it costs the taxpayer R9 876 per month for each inmate, whilst electronic monitoring costs R3 379.
Electronic monitoring enables offenders to be monitored within metres, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Should an offender commit any violation, alerts are immediately generated and transmitted. Interference with the equipment, including tampering or failing to charge the receiver, is electronically relayed to the control room.
In conjunction with the National Council on Correctional Services, NCCS, chaired by Judge Desai and comprising deputy chairs, Judges Ledwaba and Lacock, as well as other professionals, including magistrates, attorneys, clinical psychologists, social workers, medical doctors, professors and officials, we are reviewing various issues.
These issues include overcrowding, CCTV cameras in correctional centres, Parole Board and case management committee training, training for psychologists and social workers, as well as training on the Second Chance Act.
In 2007, the Democrats and Republicans in the US sponsored a legislative proposal to expand re-entry services for people leaving correctional centres. The Act counters policies that have made it difficult for ex- offenders to re-enter the normative noncriminal community and could explain why there are so many repeat offenders.
Our responsibility is to keep those who, by law, are supposed to be inside. But, unlike a train driver, our task is not limited to ensuring that they are properly inside, but rather that they are properly rehabilitated. The task does not end with them leaving our correctional centres. It is still our responsibility to ensure that they do not reoffend. The Second Chance Act may assist in this task.
According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, January-February 2013, a United States report suggests that the imprisonment rate for African-Americans is six times higher than the national average. This means that young black men, who have not completed high school, are more likely to be imprisoned than find a job.
South Africa is no different. The vast bulk of inmates are young black men. More than a third of those incarcerated are youths, and a large number of inmates who, while not under 25 years, are still in the prime of their life.
Children, as young as 17 years of age, have committed serious crimes. If we have somehow forgotten this, we must just remember what happened in Gauteng a few days ago.
Our average inmate is a young substance abuser who has dropped out of school before high school, is functionally illiterate and, more often than not, homeless.
During September 2012, we undertook a study tour to Brazil, Cuba and New York. South Africans are ranked fifth in terms of foreigners jailed in Brazil. The majority are convicted for drug-related crimes. In Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, 125 South Africans were incarcerated. Of these 57 were men and 68 women, the youngest being 20 years and the oldest a woman of 74 years.
We welcome the role of eNews Channel Africa anchor Joanne Joseph in telling the drug-mule story of former Miss SA finalist Vanessa Goosen. The book, Drug Muled: Sixteen years in a Thai Prison, the Vanessa Goosen story, details Vanessa's life of imprisonment in Thailand.
Drug use cuts across race and class; it affects the rich and the poor. Your daughter or son could be next. We are calling upon everyone - parents, educators, religious leaders - to start learning about, observing and recognising drugs and their signs.
To observe the signs in your child when she is already on trial or sentenced, or serving time, is too late. Together, we fought against apartheid and defeated it. Together, we are fighting against all forms of intolerance. A new scourge is upon us: the scourge of drugs. Let us unite and fight it in our families, communities, schools, churches, mosques, temples and everywhere.
As Correctional Services, our contribution to preventing drug abuse includes schoolchildren being taken on tours to correctional centres, with motivational talks from rehabilitated inmates.
In Gauteng, to date, 1 107 school tours were undertaken by 56 634 learners and 3 321 educators. Inmates depict the realities of life in prison, demonstrating that crime does not pay. The motivational talks by offenders have also gone beyond correctional centres to schools, community events, as well as media interviews.
At least 95% of those incarcerated will return to society after serving their sentence - so the expression "Go rot in jail" is not quite accurate. Offenders must return as better, changed and law-abiding citizens. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. We are turning our correctional centres into centres of learning. Offenders must read, study and work.
We must have an impact on the hearts and minds of offenders so that, upon release, they will be in possession of at least a certificate in one hand and a skill in the other. Key to rehabilitation is empowering offenders to function effectively upon their release, but it is equally important to ensure that offenders are involved in productive activity while they serve their sentences. As at February, 97% of offenders serving sentences longer than 24 months had correctional sentence plans.
From 1 April 2013, it is compulsory for every inmate without a qualification equivalent to Grade 9 to complete Adult Education and Training, level 1 to 4. This year 10 393 offenders are registered for Abet and by July we will have increased this number so that everyone does not just eat and sleep; they must also read. [Applause.]
In the 2012 National Senior Certificate examinations, inmates achieved a 79,2% pass rate compared to 68% in 2011. This year, 1 413 offenders are registered for the Report 550, former Matric, mid-year examinations, and 2 012 offenders for the NSC exams. An agreement has been signed with the Department of Higher Education and Training for the 2012-13 to 2015-16 financial years for accredited vocational and basic occupational skills programmes through the National Skills Fund.
Last year, R66,424 million was spent on training 5 837 offenders in scarce skills such as welding, plumbing, bricklaying, plastering, electrical engineering, carpentry and the agricultural skills programme.
On Monday, 27 May 2013, we launched the Western Cape Arts and Crafts Gallery at the Goodwood Correctional Centre for offenders to be able to express their creativity. The Gallery of Hope will enable offenders to sell their art to the public, support their families and have money when released. Furthermore, this gallery will be used as an aftercare centre for released offenders to improve reintegration and to make it much easier. [Applause.]
Within two months of launching the Reading for Redemption campaign, on 17 September 2012, books worth more than R1 million were donated. Various models of Reading for Redemption programmes exist globally. In South Africa, partnerships have been established with universities, including the University of Zululand, University of KwaZuluNatal, Unisa, Walter Sisulu University and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
We are implementing the Reading for Redemption programme with a phased approach. We are currently concentrating on raising awareness, as well as encouraging offenders, and officials, to read. We, therefore, want to encourage individuals, and organisations, to donate as many constructive books as possible.
Reading and writing clubs are being established in correctional centres. On 27 May 2013, we launched Volume One of a poetry series by offenders entitled Unchained. On 7 March, a copy of the novel Kwakungeke kube nje was handed to its author, Celimpilo Cele, who is an inmate at Qalakabusha Correctional Facility. The novel won the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Literature Writing Competition and is published by Oxford University Press.
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho from Makhado, who was imprisoned for 11 years and is on parole, pursued a creative writing course through Unisa. On his release he published his collection of short stories.
Today Mukwevho is a poet and community journalist, who was tops in the inaugural Polokwane Literary Festival last year. He is negotiating a deal for his first novel. [Applause.]
As per the National Framework on Offender Labour, we are increasing the number of offenders who participate in offender labour and skills development programmes. On 12 February 2013, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Basic Education, to use offender labour to build schools and supply furniture.
The obligations of the Department of Correctional Services include the manufacture and delivery of school furniture; rehabilitation of school furniture; construction of school infrastructure; maintenance and refurbishment of schools; and the establishment of school gardens.
Ten workshops in the Department of Correctional Services will manufacture the school furniture. The first delivery is expected by the Department of Basic Education on 30 August 2013. On 14 May 2013, Noziwe Public School in Khuma in the North West was the latest school to receive refurbished desks and computers donated by business. Offenders, across the country, are giving back to communities and demonstrating remorse for crimes committed.
Agricultural production takes place on our 21 correctional-centre farms and 96 smaller vegetable production sites, all spread over some 40 000 ha of land. Vegetable production takes place on 21 farms and 108 smaller centres; fruit production on 13 farms; milk production on 17 farms; red meat on 24 farming units; chicken on four farms; egg-laying on eight farms; red meat abattoirs on 17 farms; white meat abattoirs on three farms; and 15 farms focus on piggeries.
The abattoir at Leeuwkop Correctional Facility, once again, emerged a winner at the 2012 Nama Phepa Awards. It was declared the best in the province for three successive years in the category of Low Red Meat Abattoir, winning the gold award. From April 2012 to March 2013, inmates at correctional centre farms and abattoirs produced more than 6,5 million litres of milk, 551 000 kilograms of red meat, 1,8 million kilograms of pork, 1 million kilograms of chicken, 1,4 million dozen eggs, 9 million kilograms of vegetables and 607 000 kilograms of fruit.
The establishment of a trading entity is being finalised between us and Treasury, and this should be done in the next few weeks. We have adopted various orphanages and old age homes, and we will continue to donate excess products to disadvantaged communities. We want to return rehabilitated offenders to society as healthy and responsible community members.
Government has stepped up its efforts to fight tuberculosis in correctional centres. On 24 March 2013, we, together with Minister Motsoaledi, accompanied Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to Pollsmoor, where six machines were handed to us for testing inmates.
As at April, 98% of the offenders under community correction, complied with ... [Interjections.] [Time expired.]