Address by the Minister, Mr. Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Head Office Staff Bosman Street Church, Tshwane
11 Jul 2012Programme Director
National Commissioner: Mr. Tom S Moyane
Chief Deputy Commissioners
Other Members of Management
All Members of the Correctional Services Family
Members of the media
It is, indeed, a great honour and privilege for me to address you this morning. Following my appointment as Minister of Correctional Services on 12 June 2012, upon my return from official business in London on the morning of 14 June 2012, I immediately met with my colleagues Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Deputy Minister Adv. Ramatlhodi, the National Commissioner Tom Moyane and senior management.
The next day, 15 June 2012, accompanied by the National Commissioner, we addressed the KwaZulu-Natal provincial management at the Westville Correctional Centre. Since then, it has been a hectic few weeks. I would have loved to have interacted with you earlier but, nonetheless, I am glad that we are here today. Tomorrow (12 July 2012), will mark one month since I joined the Correctional Services Family.
Last Friday (6 July), marked the successful closure of the ten week Special Remission of Sentence process in which we had to release a total of 43,789 offenders from 241 Correctional Centres and the system of Community Corrections. The release process was administered well and characterised by efficient teamwork and efficient coordination by our officials at area management, regional and national levels. For this, you all deserve a round of applause.
This year (2012) marks 101 years of existence of a national prison/correctional services department in the country. The national department was established on 1 October 1911, when the Act on Prisons and Rehabilitation Centres, Act 13 of 1911 was adopted. In the minds of the people, the thought of prison will always invoke negative thoughts and memories. Sadly in South Africa, there are also many reasons why the thought of prisons brings back negative and painful memories.
From its onset, the department was an instrument of racial segregation, discrimination, poor prison conditions and many other unthinkable practices that prisoners had to endure, which amongst others included forced as well as cheap labour, dietary punishment and corporal punishment.
After the 1960’s, the situation worsened with the imprisonment of political opponents in general and, in particular, those who were instrumental in the struggle against the apartheid regime. Some of them even paid the ultimate price by sacrificing their lives at the gallows. The State of Emergency called for in 1985 saw the country’s prisons bursting at the seams. It was to be one of the final nails in the apartheid coffin for this marked the beginning of the final chapter of the end of the oppressive regime.
There is also a lot of good to celebrate - especially all the efforts that went into turning this bastion of apartheid around into one of the leading correctional systems in the world today. It was not easy but it had to be done. We know that there is still a lot of work to be done and, perhaps, there will always be work to do to ensure that the system evolves with time.
Amongst all the careers in the public service, law enforcement is amongst the least glamorous and, by far, the most dangerous. I personally can attest to this as I qualified as a Traffic Officer during my ten-year term as MEC for Transport in KwaZulu-Natal. During my 18-year tenure as MEC, Premier and National Minister of Transport, I worked closely with law enforcement officers at various law enforcement operations. The law enforcement profession, however, must be performed with the deepest love for our country, uncompromising quest for safety and vicious detest for injustice.
It is for this reason that, as we talk to you here today, we should thank you, on behalf of our government, our people and our country for enlisting as Correctional Officers and for the work that each one of you do every day under the most trying conditions.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is fully committed to a caring and just society, enjoining all of us to afford those who err against society the opportunity to correct their ways under humane conditions. We are going all out to rehabilitate those seeking opportunities for change in their lives. We are passionate about galvanising understanding for our transformative agenda from prisons to corrections, and preparing offenders to be reintegrated as functional members of society.
Corrections is an integral part of the Integrated Criminal Justice System, and the value chain in the fight against crime and criminality. We have moved away from the legacy of the past of serving solely as an instrument of retribution to actively pursuing lasting solutions to the societal challenge that is crime by showing those in conflict with the law that there are alternatives to a life of criminality and self-destruction.
The White Paper on Corrections enjoins us to pursue this objective by changing the circumstances of those entrusted in our care, through not only offending behaviour altering interventions but also through skills and training. Skills development and educational opportunities offer us immediate solutions to providing those serving time within our facilities, to at least attain a new set of tools for tackling life better once released through parole or completion of sentence.
It is for this reason that we are embarking on a campaign calling on the private sector and other interested organisations and individuals to donate books and baby items for our prisons. We must create an environment in our prisons that will contribute towards offenders becoming better than what they were, thereby ensuring a better South Africa. We want to encourage our inmates to study, study, study. The beauty of being a human being is you can change. The emphasis of Correctional Services is correction, and all of us can be corrected.
As we continue to interact as the Correctional Services Family, it is critical that we take our positions as public servants very seriously. If the department is going to improve on its way of doing things, it is only through the dynamic contribution of each and every one of you. It is very important that we work together as a team and yield sound and objective results that, do not only glorify our image as the Department of Correctional Services but, have a meaningful impact on the lives of our citizens.
I am confident that this team is well equipped and talented to drive the kind of public servant that is needed to take the corrections challenges to a higher level of decision-making, which is solution orientated. What we must now do, is work hard at ensuring that we make this system work for all of us. We will keep doing our best to improve the conditions of our Correctional Officers, and we ask of you to discharge your responsibilities with honour and pride. I also want to thank all those who have made this gathering possible today.
We have a long way to go, but I am confident that WORKING TOGETHER, WE CAN DO MORE.
Issued by: Department of Correctional Services
11 Jul 2012
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