Friday, July 19, 2024

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POPCRU decries shrinking prison staff numbers

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Following the appointment of Pieter Groenewald as Minister of Correctional Services, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has demanded the employment of more custodial officers in South Africa’s prisons in the face of overcrowding and short-staffing.

The union in a statement said the staff complement that stood at 40 000 in 2009 is currently standing at 38 000 with only 27 000 officials working at the coalface of correctional centres, and demanded the employment of more custodial officers.

“We have on various occasions expressed that the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) must not renew the contracts of private prisons in the country, and should develop a clear plan that will include admitted trade unions within the department on the winding-up process,” stated POPCRU’s Media and Communications Officer Richard Mamabolo.

“As there is already a decision to absorb of all personnel employed by the two private prisons into the DCS as these officials were initially employed under the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998, we are of the view that this process must be fast-tracked.”

For the DCS to fulfill its rehabilitation mandate as directed by the constitution, POPCRU is of the view that the following measures should be urgently undertaken:

· Promotion policy and shift system should be prioritised

· Correctional centres should be self-sufficient

· Correctional centres should be built in rural areas

· The employment of more personnel is vital

· The dilapidated infrastructure should be refurbished

Meanwhile, National Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, Samuel Thobakgale, has welcomed the new minister and deputy ministers to the department. Groenewald will be deputised by Lindiwe Ntshalintshali.

“We are committed to working in tandem with the Ministry in our quest to bring about change through the implementation of innovative policies and programmes that promote rehabilitation, reduce overcrowding, and strive for the safety and security of our communities,” Thobakgale said.

In a statement, DCS said it is confident that with the new leadership it will continue to build on strides it has made.

“The department…is dedicated to the principles of justice, accountability, and respect for human rights. The wealth of experience brought by the new leadership will be crucial in driving forward our strategic goals and ensuring that we continue to be the best correctional service for a safer South Africa.

“Having registered significant strides in redefining the purpose of corrections, the Department is confident that it will continue to build on its successes and address the challenges facing correctional facilities.

“We extend our warmest congratulations to Minister Groenewald and Deputy Minister Ntshalintshali on their appointments. Correctional Services is poised for a stimulating tenure,” the department said.

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