The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) welcomes the unavoidable decision by Bosasa, otherwise known as African Global Solutions, to go into voluntary liquidation following the banks’ intention to close its bank accounts on the basis of the reputational damage it has together with the Department of Correctional Service (DCS) management caused, is of the view that urgent action needs to be taken in retrieving some of the unused funds from the DCS, and that decisions about a new direction the DCS should to take be inclusive.
We particularly welcome this latest development bearing in mind the negative reputational damage they have both inflicted on the functionality of this department, and are of the view that there should be urgent measures in ensuring the retrieval of funds and current accounts between the two be halted.
We also want to emphatically stress that the task being undertaken by Minister Masutha, of having the DCS undergo a process of determining the possibility of reviewing its contracts with Bosasa, which includes examining whether the department can extradite themselves from these deals and examining the entire history of security procurement of the department not be done in isolation from all stakeholders.
It is quite eminent that the future of the DCS is not left in the hands of only a few, but becomes something that all stakeholders engage in. We mention this in particular because some people have for the longest time pleaded ignorance to the plight of correctional officers across our correctional centres as expressed by the minister in past days, when asking the acting National Director of Public Prosecutions as to why there had not been any criminal charges following investigations by the Special Investigative Unit which had its report ready a decade ago?
To this extent, it is quiet saddening that this question is being raised by a person who had since 2014 been given the responsibility to head the department.
We are not about to sit idle while the very people who had been afforded the opportunity to serve their nation with dignity attempt to take corrective measures against what they silently observed over the years without our inputs.
The outsourcing of incarceration to private prisons and private companies have demonstrated to constrain public oversight over correctional centres and has given the politically influential private security industry a perverse incentive, subsidised by taxpayers’ funds, and we want this state of affairs to end.
In addition to the extra burden on taxpayers, much of the underlying social costs falls on workers as some have seen their jobs eliminated altogether, while others continue to be exploited, which brings about economic instability. These social disruptions have aggravated the very budget problems contracting is supposed to solve, that being the tax base crumbles, leading to disinvestment from institutions like schools, hospitals and public transport.
We all need to speak to the necessary changes needed in bringing about the much lost integrity back to the DCS, and this, we believe, can be done by way of ensuring those involved are taken to task without fear of favour, but also through ensuring the direction the department takes here forth is one that prioritises the fulfilling of the department’s core function which is to rehabilitate inmates and create a better society.
The tenderisation process should be halted altogether in ensuring our correctional centres become self-sufficient, a process which will naturally lead to the skilling of inmates in reducing the current reoffending rate that stands at 85%.
We should all be at the centre of all these deliberations in regaining drastically changing the direction the DCS has over these years been driven towards.
Issued by POPCRU on 18/02/2019