The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union supports the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa for harsher action to be taken against perpetrators of violent crimes against women and children.
In his address to mourners of yet another victim, the President indicated that the government should work towards changing the criminal justice system in ensuring that people convicted for such atrocious acts remain behind bars for life, and under the harshest conditions.
We believe that this call provides an appropriate platform for engagement within the criminal justice cluster to reflect on a critical issue that not only affects victims, but also society at large as it is their resources being utilised for the wellbeing of inmates, all while they remain idle within our correctional facilities.
The scourge of violent crimes against women and children is inexcusable, and is a tragic reflection on our society, hence perpetrators should indeed be taken to task.
As things stand, South Africa is standing at a reoffending rate of over 85%, meaning that those who are released tend to reoffend after their incarceration. This is partly due to the fact that the core duty of the Department of Correctional Services, which is the rehabilitation of inmates, has not been taking place, considering that our centres are overcrowded and understaffed.
Overcrowding has reached alarming propositions in South African correctional centres, making it impossible for any rehabilitation programme to be successful
Conditions have not been conducive for rehabilitation, and have led to gangsterism which has for the longest time resulted in regular altercations which has resulted in the many deaths of both inmates and correctional officers.
This factor has been a clear indication that taxpayers’ monies are being wasted, while they could have otherwise been invested in educational initiatives.
We view this call as a step in the right direction insofar as engaging on the kind of ideal corrections we should have as a country.
This and other forms of crime should be seen as a serious social challenge for our county, and would require all social and government stakeholders to fight against it.
We urge the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) to ensure means that all correctional centres become self-sustainable and prisons should no longer be sites of criminality by way of inmates taking responsibility for the production of their food, the manufacturing of furniture, uniforms and all such other tasks. They should be expected to work on government projects such as building dams, fixing roads and clearing alien vegetation from nature reserves.
Issued by POPCRU on 03/12/2019