Popcru welcomes appointment of FF+ leader Groenewald as Correctional Services Minister

New DCS minister Pieter Groenewald. Picture: Phando Jikelo/Independent Newspapers

New DCS minister Pieter Groenewald. Picture: Phando Jikelo/Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 1, 2024


The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has welcomed the appointment of Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald as the new Correctional Services Minister.

As a significant stakeholder in South Africa's Criminal Justice Cluster (CJC), Popcru represents thousands of police officers and prison warders. The union emphasised the urgent need for a capable, ethical, and efficient leadership to address the deep-rooted challenges facing the DCS.

Popcru highlighted the critical issues of overcrowding and under staffing within the nation's correctional facilities.

The current staffing levels have dropped from 40,000 in 2009 to 38,000, with only 27,000 officers actively working in correctional centres, Popcru bemoaned.

The union calls for the immediate hiring of additional custodial officers to mitigate these problems, which compromise the safety and effectiveness of the correctional system.

A key concern for Popcru is the role of private prisons in the correctional system.

The union strongly opposes the renewal of contracts for private prisons and advocates for a clear plan to wind down these contracts.

They urge the new minister to expedite the process of absorbing personnel from private prisons into the DCS, ensuring that all staff members are employed under the Correctional Services Act of 1998.

To fulfill its constitutional mandate of rehabilitation, Popcru insists that the DCS must undertake several urgent measures such as prioritising promotion policies and shift systems to improve staff morale and efficiency, construct correctional centres in rural areas to enhance self-sufficiency and accessibility, employing additional personnel to ensure the smooth operation of facilities, and refurbish dilapidated infrastructure to create a safer and more conducive environment for both inmates and staff.

Public reaction to the appointment of Pieter Groenewald as the new DCS minister has been varied, with some “feeling sorry for the prisoners”.

Others took a dig at Groenewald. He was elected Stillfontein Mayor the Conservative Party in 1988.

Others believed he would do well in his new portfolio.

Popcru called for reforms that focus on worker welfare, crime reduction, and human rights, urging newly appointed ministers to adhere to these principles to significantly enhance the effectiveness and fairness of South Africa's criminal justice system.