The Department of Correctional Services appears to be more concerned with celebration than rehabilitation. In a set of replies to DA parliamentary questions, the Department has revealed that it spent over R4.5 million on events this year.
Earlier this year, the Department held its annual National Corrections Excellence Awards in East London. This event rewards correctional services officials who have performed well in the financial year. It cost the Department R3 713 516.
During Women's Month (August), the Department held a total of 54 events across the country at a cost of over R900 000. This equates to almost two events a day during Women's Month.
Although we do not disagree that excellent performance should be acknowledged and that Women's Month should be celebrated, the Department should be ensuring that its core mandate receives priority.
In the 2011/12 financial year, the Department only achieved 53% of its targets.
This celebration money could and should be better spent on the Department's core mandate, which is the rehabilitation of offenders. According to the available information, it does not seem to appear that they are achieving this mandate.
The targets which are set for rehabilitation programmes are hardly ever achieved. For example, the Department only achieved roughly half of its target relating to the percentage of eligible offenders who participate in skills development programmes.
The Department needs to start paying more attention on its core mandate, which is rehabilitation, not celebration. We can celebrate once they start achieving this.
James Selfe, DA Spokesperson on Correctional Services