Sonke Gender Justice to take on Ramaphosa over Correctional Services Act
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Cape Town - South African-based non-profit organisation Sonke Gender Justice is preparing to head to the Constitutional Court in March where it will battle it out with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Last year the Western Cape High Court handed down judgment in the matter between the organisation, Ramaphosa and several others.
This relates to an application that Sonke and Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) filed at the Western Cape High Court in December 2016 where it sought for the court to declare that several sections of the Correctional Services Act were inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid.
In court papers, it alleged that the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS) as the primary institution tasked with monitoring and overseeing South Africa’s correctional system lacked the necessary structural and operational independence.
The JCIS was established in June 1998 as part of the act.
The inspectorate’s mission, among other things, is to “uphold the human dignity of inmates through independent, proactive, and responsive oversight” as well as to inspect, investigate, report and make recommendations on the conditions of correctional centres and treatment of inmates in order to ensure that the rights of inmates are respected and protected.
Sonke and LHR had at the time argued that in its current form the JICS did not comply with its mandate.
In September last year, Judge Nolwazi Boqwana of the high court gave Parliament two years to amend unconstitutional provisions in the act regarding the independence of the prisons inspectorate.
She said the importance of the inspectorate (JICS) could not be understated and it was there to safeguard vulnerable inmates. The judgment also wanted JICS to be dependent on the Department of Correctional Services for its budget, be accountable to the department for all monies received and that disciplinary measures concerning the chief executive be handled by the DCS National Commissioner.
When Sonke heads to the Concourt in March, it will seek for the court to confirm Judge Boqwana’s judgment so that it becomes legally binding. In October Ramaphosa appointed retired Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron as the inspecting judge of the JICS for a three-year term.