Cape Town - Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has blamed a lack of funding for the shortage of uniforms for remand prisoners.
Lamola was responding to parliamentary questions from IFP MP Themba Msimang who asked how his department has addressed the procurement processes in order to resolve the issue of uniforms of prisoners.
Msimang said there were recent media statements indicating that the department has been facing challenges with shortfalls in the allocation of prisoner uniforms particularly for remand detainees.
He said it was a concern as the wearing of civilian clothes by inmates could create a security risk by making it difficult to distinguish between prisoners and civilians working inside a correctional centre.
“What additional training for staff has been rolled out to rectify the shortage of staff with procurement skills and/or lack of familiarity with procurement processes that were also listed as a challenge?” Msimang asked.
In his written answer, Lamola acknowledged there was a shortage of uniforms for prisoners.
“It is acknowledged that the uniform for remand detainees is not sufficient to cater for all remand detainees due to lack of funding. Since 2019 the budget for remand detainees’ uniform has been drastically reduced on an annual basis,” he said.
The minister said regions submit on an annual basis their needs for the next financial year for the ordering of remand detainees’ uniform.
He said since 2019 the budget for remand detainees uniform was drastically reduced on an annual basis.
“In 2019/2020 an amount of R40 049 000.00 was allocated for remand detainees uniform. In 2020/2021, an amount of R15 800 000 was allocated and in 2021/2022 an amount of R17 900 000.00 was allocated.”
Lamola also said the budget was further reduced to R9.5 million for the 2022/23 financial year. “With the reduced budget the challenge of shortages for remand detainees Uniform is going to be even bigger in 2022/23 as the required quantities to be submitted to the National Treasury will also be reduced due to budget cuts.”
However, he said the provision of uniforms to remand detainees had been prioritised and included in the 2022/23 annual operational plan with a monthly target of 90%.
Delivering his budget speech on Thursday, Lamola said with government resources constrained, the department has adopted an innovative way to save costs and efficiently use the allocated resources.
“One of the programmes we are using to cut costs in the department is the Self Sufficiency Strategic Framework with a restorative justice element. So far, self-sufficiency has set the department on the right course to save taxpayers money and position the department of correctional services to have a restorative justice impact in communities.”
Lamola said the department had invested in new machinery that would assist in the mass production of uniforms for both inmates and officials.
“We are currently training inmates and officials to run production lines with our new machines. The target is simple: skill inmates with functional skills and increase our production capacity.”
Lamola said the department had also developed a procedure manual to assist the officials working at the detention facilities to understand the requirements with implementation of legislation related to clothing as provided for in the Correctional Services Act.
“The procedure manual serves to make provision for consistent standards in terms of issuing, assigning and receiving of remand detainee uniforms and to ensure uniformity within the department.”
He added the department had identified the need for training officials in supply chain management and the need was for the past two years among top priorities.
“During the financial year 2020/21 a total of 23 officials received training in supply chain management and a total of 41 officials were also trained in 2021/22.
“Training was concluded in all regions and the department has again in 2022/23 placed supply chain management training as one of the top training priorities where the number of officials to be trained will be increased,” Lamola said.