The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) condemns the latest stabbing incident of a correctional official by an inmate at the St Albans Correctional Centre, and the escape of 7 suspects awaiting trial at the Modimolle Police station; incidents which took place over the past weekend.
These incidents took place just weeks after another unfortunate incident in the Free State where an inmate fatally stabbed while her colleague was injured and hospitalised.
These random occurrences have become commonplace within our facilities across the country, and they just go ignored by management.
Our staff complements across correctional centres and police stations have for years been subjected to unsafe working conditions within their workplace, and this state of affairs has been normalised by their seniors who have continuously failed to improve conditions workers are placed under.
Whenever there are escapes, management is quick to charge members, but act at a snail’s pace in improving their working conditions.
They have effectively rendered the lives of correctional officials worthless through their failure to comply to their safety policies, and this incident has adversely affected the morale of many other correctional officials who continue to be single-handedly forced to work under dangerous conditions.
The challenges of overcrowding and understaffing within our correctional centres stem from the indifferent attitude that has been demonstrated by the DCS management, and this due to the fact that they have over the years abandoned their core mandate to create conducive rehabilitating conditions at the expense of individual self-serving interests that prioritise briberies over service delivery.
Overcrowding, understaffing and the illegal shift patterns that are imposed on correctional officials endanger continue to their lives on a daily basis, and this status quo cannot continue unabated.
No longer can olden norm be acceptable where agreements such as the fulfilling of the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) of 2009, the lack of supply of uniforms since 2009 and the illegal shift patterns that lead to attacks be acceptable while a huge chunk of the budget that is supposed to address these challenges is primarily utilised for tenders on services that could be done internally, something which would make our correctional centres self-sustainable again.
It is now, more than ever, that discussions into the future of the functionality of the DCS is not an exclusive club, but becomes a dialogue in which all stakeholders should have a say since the department has failed to create conducive conditions for implementing their core task which is to ensure rehabilitation.
Our immediate demands are that there should be an urgent sitting with the department and stakeholders in resolving challenges workers are workers are faced with, including the full implementation of signed agreements, the insourcing of all services, illegal shift patterns and promotions.
We also call on government to take urgent action in ensuring the restoration of the lost DCS is regained through improved service delivery. Issued by POPCRU on 15/05/2019