Thank you very much, Chairperson. Gosh, it is late! Good evening, Minister and officials. I am going to take two minutes of my time because it is late. I do not want to have ... [Interjections.] No, you are talking for 10 minutes! [Laughter.]
Minister, let me first commend you on the bold and wise decision to cancel the building of the additional public-private partnership prisons. It was not four prisons that were supposed to be built initially but seven of them. You were brave enough to cancel those and I am very happy. I told you the other day that I would say publicly that I was delighted about it. The late Mr Vernie Petersen, former national commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, and I were campaigners against this immoral and corrupt system, where companies were milking taxpayers of millions of rands. We know that two PPPs, one in Limpopo and the other in the Free State, are taking a big chunk of the budget of this department. I know that because that is where I am from.
Let me talk about the release of prisoners on 27 April 2012. That is not a solution to the overcrowding in prisons. Every year, on 27 April, you - or the President - are going to release prisoners. The solution is to address the senseless incarceration of offenders by the courts. This is not you - your department only receives them. There are people who go to prison and are not supposed to be there. So, come 27 April, you are going to release those people who are not supposed to be there.
Why would you put a person in prison for committing a minor offence? Sentencing is for people who have committed dangerous crimes. Yes, we must arrest a person and bring them to court to pay for their offence. But why do we not have alternative sentences, like community service? There is a lot to do and we will save a lot of money if we do that.
Rehabilitation will never be implemented when you have a person sitting in prison because they stole a loaf of bread or a pair of shoes. You will sentence this person to three months. In fact, he will spend 15 days in prison. So, it is a senseless process. We must tell the courts that that is taxpayers' money going down the drain!
Prison is there for ... [Interjections.] I am coming to that! Prison was never built for petty criminals. It was built for murderers, rapists and white collar criminals. It was built for the heartless, cruel and corrupt criminals who are looting this government, stealing money that is supposed to go to the poor, like those who have left the Limpopo provincial government bankrupt. They must go to prison! HON MEMBERS: Yes! Yes!