POPCRU concerned with developments at the Mangaung Correctional Centre (G4S)

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. Photograph: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency ( ANA)

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. Photograph: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency ( ANA)

Published Feb 21, 2024


As the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) we of the view that the provision of law and order is the key function of any government, the union spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said on Wednesday.

Mamabolo said this important duty should not be delegated to the hands of the private sector all in the name of the profit.

“Money that could be allocated to services is creamed off in profits and fees for consultants and advisory schemes; the private sector becomes even more entrenched in criminal justice policymaking; and the fuse is lit on a financial time bomb.

“So far private prisons have failed to demonstrate that they are cost-effective, innovative, and have lower recidivism rates.

“Any prison that is being built should contribute to crime prevention by rehabilitating prisoners and reducing repeat incarceration, and for this, we urge the DCS to fast-track the process of terminating these contracts. We further demand that all employees who are at the coalface, performing custodial duties, are absorbed into the DCS, as they have been appointed in terms of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 2018 as fully-fledged correctional officials with all due benefits,” he added.

Mamabolo said the union will ensure that Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) is followed to the letter during this absorption period, and that no member loses their job.

He further said the union has witnessed resistance and co-ordinated attacks on employees during the whole transfer period.

Mamabolo also raised concerns at which the process of transferring of the Mangaung Correctional Centre was moving at.

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) had issued Bloemfontein Correctional Contracts (BCC), the tender to manage the prison, with a 90-day termination notice, which had to expires at the end of July last year.

The BCC was responsible for the running of the prison at the time of Thabo Bester’s escape, which allegedly involved several prison guards.

Just days before the termination took effect, the BCC approached the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in a bid to obtain an urgent interdict against the minister of justice and correctional services.

The action forced the department to extend the security’s contract by three months to allow the courts to decide if the department had fairly ended the 22-year-old contract it had with BCC to manage the Bloemfontein prison, as they were supposed to have taken over the prison on August 31 2023, following the termination of the contract in May 2023.

Mamabolo explained that it was in the notice of this termination that the BCC approached the courts and claimed that the termination was done unfairly and prematurely, adding that this culminated in a court order directing the department and BCC to seek mediation in their dispute.

He said the process ‘demonstrated the extent to which some still want to benefit out of this futile arrangement’.

“With government continuing to spend almost R1 billion of taxpayers’ monies on the two private prisons in the country, it comes as no surprise that they would want to hold onto the contracts despite having clearly demonstrated to disregard human rights.

“Beside the moral and ethical arguments about prison privatisation, there is ample operational evidence that the policy itself is flawed. The fact that the human rights dimension of private prisons has not been fully examined, is a dereliction of duty.”

The Star