Correctional Services in Free State unable to provide basic supplies to prisons

George Michalakis

DA Free State Permanent Delegate to the National Council of Provinces:

The Department of Justice and Correctional Services cannot supply the Free State with basic raw material for everyday use in their facilities. This seems to be a nationwide trend.

In a reply to a parliamentary question by the DA, the Department has admitted that some correctional facilities have last received basic uniforms as far back as 2009 of which many were of the wrong sizes.

The last time any staff in this province were issued with uniforms needed was during the 2011/12 financial year when an instruction was issued to cancel all outstanding requisitions. Only 25% of the remaining outstanding uniforms were issued since.

Prisoners have also been neglected. The department has indicated that insufficient funds have been budgeted for these uniforms over the last two years and project that according to their current indications this problem will continue for the next three years.

According to the information provided by the department, the last time inmate uniforms were distributed to a Free State prison where record of this is available, was 2011 and others as far back as 2009. The Northern Cape according to the same indications are not much better off.

This will imply that prisoners in some areas might not have received any uniforms from 2009 making it a 9 year period as the Department projects that sufficient funds will not be available until 2018. This whilst some prisons have resorted to allowing prisoners to wear civilian attire during winter months due to harsh weather conditions, increasing the risk of escapees.

According to the department of Justice and Correctional Services, there are currently shortages with the following uniforms and bedding:

  • Tracksuit jackets for offenders
  • Orange overalls
  • Socks for offenders
  • Bed Sheets
  • Pillowcases
  • Mattresses

The DA finds it unacceptable that staff of the Department and inmates are being so grossly neglected and stripped of their dignity due to bad administration and the inability by the Department to supply even the most basic material needed.

I will write to the Minister to find out how he is attending to this matter and what steps he is taking to address this issue.