Justice and Correctional Services Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla has paid a visit to St Albans Correctional Centre in the Eastern Cape.
St Albans is one of the biggest correctional facilities in the country. On 26 December 2016, the facility witnessed a clash between inmates and correctional authorities, which left three inmates dead.
Addressing officials and offenders at St Albans on Tuesday, Deputy Minister Makwetla said the correctional facility is a top priority to his department.
“With St Albans being amongst the so-called ‘Big Five’ correctional centres in the country, what happens here unavoidably has the effect of introducing ripple effects across South Africa’s 242 correctional facilities.
“The challenges encountered here are not just a St Albans thing. We cannot allow incidents like what happened here on 26 December 2016 to prevail,” the Deputy Minister said on Tuesday.
The Deputy Minister told inmates not to undermine those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of rehabilitating those who have wronged society.
Deputy Minister Makwetla said one of the complexities the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) grapples with is that the offender community represents the so-called ‘bad guys’ in society.
He said these ‘bad guys’ are among the most lateral thinkers in communities and that these are the people who have the capacity to influence others in the unlawful deeds they commit.
“They will want this community to grow and at times, they are also growing this community behind bars. As DCS, we need to be the first line of defence to deal with the stink that comes from those behind bars, particularly gangsterism at the facilities.
“For offenders to undermine government by killing correctional officials, something is fundamentally wrong. The conflict between officials and offenders is totally unacceptable and is a misplaced cause. There is no reason for a perpetual feud between officials and inmates.
“As correctional officials, we have a responsibility to ensure incarceration under safe and humane conditions.
“We must make a concerted effort to bring an end to this tension and conflictual relationships. The possibility of a win-win situation is there but this challenges our mindsets and the manner in which we do things,” the Deputy Minister said.
Deputy Minister Makwetla told the inmates that the level of violent conflict is unhealthy.
“It is not our business to be at war with offenders. This is not the business we are in. We cannot be doing things that are unlawful and unconstitutional. We want to listen to your constructive inputs in relation the ongoing feud here at St Albans and find solutions,” he said.
The Deputy Minister — accompanied by DCS National Commissioner Zach Modise — assured officials and inmates that Eastern Cape Regional Commissioner Nkosinati Breakfast is going to deal with these issues, including the implementation of a remedial action plan.
As part of monitoring and evaluation, Deputy Minister Makwetla is scheduled to return to St Albans in the near future. – SAnews.gov.za
Editor: NO the Minister wasn’t inspecting the prison to assess it for some of our cabinet!
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