The state of South Africa’s prisons - ten years after the Jali Commission

Lukas Muntingh

Abstract


Ten years have lapsed since the Jali Commission’s final report became publicly available and it is therefore an opportune time to assess the state of South Africa’s prison system. The Jali Commission was appointed when it became clear that the state had lost control of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). Ten years on some notable advances have been made in regaining control and addressing corruption and maladministration. However, serious and persistent challenges remain. These are explored looking at policy development, the performance of DCS against set targets, governance and human rights violations. In all four of these areas substantial shortcomings remain and impunity for human rights violations is perhaps the most critical challenge as DCS has been reluctant to acknowledge the scale thereof and take firm leadership on the issue. 


Keywords


Jali commission; prison; Correctional Services; South Africa; policy development; performance targets; human rights; governance

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References


Commission of Inquiry to investigate and report on corruption, maladministration, violence, and intimidation in the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Proclamation No.135 of 2001. (Jali Commission)

Julia Sloth-Nielsen, The State of the nation’s prisons, in Sakhela Buhlungu, John Daniel, Roger Southall and Jessica Lutchman (eds) State of the Nation – South Africa 2007, HSRC Press, Cape Town, 2007, 380.

Jali Commission Final Report, p. 885.

‘Staat het alle beheer oor DKD verloor, sê DG’ Die Burger, 15 April 2000. [State has lost all control over DCS, says DG (Director General) - own translation.]; PMG Report of the meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services of 14 April 2000, http://www.pmg.org.za/minutes/20000413-audit-department-correctional-services (accessed 8 August 2016).

Department of Correctional Services (2005) White Paper on Corrections in South Africa, Pretoria: Department of Correctional Services, para 2.9.6, p. 59.

Julia Sloth-Nielsen (2003) Overview of Policy Developments in South African Correctional Services 1994 – 2002, CSPRI Research Report Nr. 1, Bellville: Community Law Centre.

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https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/15760/ (accessed 8 August 2016).

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Lukas Muntingh, Race, gender and socio-economic status in law enforcement in South Africa – are there worrying signs? CSPRI Research Report, Bellville: Dullah Omar Institute, 2013.

Courts are on average only achieving 78.1% (3 hours 31 minutes) of the expected 4 hours 30 minutes as stated in the Chief Justice’s Norms and Standards, a decrease of 2.6% from the previous year (Dept. of Justice Annual Report 2014/15, 86).

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According to the Special Investigations Unit, the investigation into medical aid fraud alone yielded the recovery of R22 million and savings amounting to R3.4 billion (Briefing by Special Investigations Unit to the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services, PMG report on the meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services of 17 November 2009, https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/11105/ (accessed 8 August 2016).

The SIU investigated four contracts awarded to the Bosasa Group of Companies between 2004 and 2006 and reported on these. These were a catering contract to the value of R717 million (US$ 85 million); an access control tender for R237 million (US 28 million); a fencing contract for R587 million (US$ 70.2 million); and a tender for televisions at R224 million (US$26.8 million). (‘Prisons graft: Bosasa’s empire of influence’ Mail and Guardian, 20 November 2009, http://mg.co.za/article/2009-11-20-prisons-graft-bosasas-empire-of-influence (accessed 8 August 2016).

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Integritron is part of the Sasstec group of companies‚ which have benefited from government tenders in the past. Integritron, is a security system business‚ providing services in perimeter detection‚ access control and software solutions. It was contracted to develop a system to monitor inmates electronically for the department.

‘Chief procurement officer orders Modise to cancel deal’ News24, 14 April 2016, http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/2016/04/14/chief-procurement-officer-orders-modise-to-cancel-deal (accessed 8 August 2016)

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Lukas Muntingh and Gwénaëlle Dereymaeker Understanding impunity in the South African law enforcement agencies, CSPRI Research Report, Bellville: Community




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2413-3108/2016/v0n58a1380

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