Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hey! Where's those eight prisons you promised us?

With South Africa's horrific crime and Zuma's main man Puff Daddy Cele's assurances that they are going to be merciless when it comes to criminals, new prison capacity is something we need. Mind you, if they keep shooting the perps dead we may not need all eight new prisons. My guess the murky hand of BEE is involved here. How can we design and build several large stadiums within a couple of years but can't construct even one prison complex since 2005? Oh yes, whitey built the stadiums..

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James Selfe says only 1 out of 8 new prisons promised in 2005 is nearing completion

Four years and seven months after former President Thabo Mbeki's first announcement regarding the construction of new generation prisons, only one of eight is nearing completion, and that one is delayed by one and a half years.

In 2002, the need for new prisons was identified. In his State of the Nation Addresses in 2005 and again in 2006, Mbeki announced that eight new generation prisons would be constructed to alleviate overcrowding and to provide the Department of Correctional Services a better opportunity to correct offending behaviour and to rehabilitate offenders.

The prison construction saga has been a chapter of mismanagement. Prison specifications and plans were drawn up and then withdrawn. Money was appropriated for their construction and then returned to the Treasury. Sites were identified and then abandoned. Site works for the Nigel and Leeuwkop facilities were commenced, but were then discontinued.

In 2008 then Minister Ngconde Balfour announced that the prisons would be constructed and run by the private sector by way of public-private partnerships. Shortly after taking office, the current Minister announced that she was reviewing this decision, in order to establish whether we would get "value for money", this after the Treasury had already established that PPPs was the most cost-effective option, and after a number of consortia have already submitted tenders for the business at considerable cost. The construction of the Kimberley Correctional Centre in 2005 was estimated to cost R499 million, a year later that figure was R571 million and by 2008, it was costing R777 million.

Correctional Centres currently have an overcrowding rate of 143%, and 19 centres have an occupancy rate of over 200%. Some prisoners are forced to sleep on the floor as there is not enough room for beds. Overcrowded conditions lead to increased gang activity and as a result, rehabilitation becomes almost impossible. It should also be remembered that amongst the inmates, are those who are awaiting trial and have not yet been found guilty of committing any crime.

We need to get on with the construction of these prisons as a matter of urgency. To delay, or worse still to abandon this process, will irreparably damage the credibility of the government. We have wasted enough time and money already. A decision must be made, and made fast. [tut tut.."damage the credibility of the government". That ship sailed a long time ago and has been around the world 16 times!]


Statement by James Selfe, MP, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of correctional services.

1 Opinion(s):

Treacle Bender said...

convicts...exterminate and eat them...

this way we can save the taxpayer money and solve the country's hunger problems..