The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has expressed readiness to take over services in the 26 kitchens being serviced by African Global Operations (AGO), previously known as Bosasa.
The need to take over the facilities came after AGO applied for voluntary liquidation amid banks closing their business accounts, spurred by allegations of fraud and corruption. The services of AGO will lapse on 24 March 2019.
Briefing the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, the DCS presented a business continuity plan, which indicated their state of readiness.
"This deadline has been brought forward by a 30 days' notice of cancelation that DCS issued to AGO following its voluntary liquidation application being granted by the Master of High Court," the department said.
Correctional Services said strengthening in-house capacity at DCS is gaining ground, and this is demonstrated by the recent in-sourcing of nutrition as of 31 January 2019 at Groenpunt Management Area, preceded by similar in-sourcing at Bizzah Makhathe Management area on 1 February 2017.
This, the department said, has brought the in-sourcing capacity to 70%.
"A detailed implementation plan, looking at stabilisation and normalisation of nutritional services covering all the affected management areas, affirms that it's all systems go and there will be seamless transition.
"The department's response to in-sourcing is staggered in short-to-medium term and medium-to-long term goals. The identified risks in the areas of legal, security, financial and health have been assessed and mitigation plans have been put in place," the DCS said.
Members of the Portfolio Committee advised the department to put in place a mechanism to avoid a situation where one company becomes a dominant service provider and in the process, monopolises the department. The Portfolio Committee emphasised the need to perform oversight as an important exercise so as to have assurance that indeed, the department is ready to take over the 26 kitchens.
National Commissioner Arthur Fraser told the committee that officials who are in the employ of DCS, who were implicated in acts of impropriety in the testimonies given before the Zondo Commission, have been served with notices in accordance with rules of natural justice to show cause.
"All but one of the six cited officials have responded and the next phase will be for the officials making presentations directly with the National Commissioner," said the DCS.
Responding to questions on poor procurement processes that have been abused in the past, DCS indicated that it was attending to the malpractices in Supply Chain and are being corrected.
The department is working with National Treasury to ensure that there is good governance around procurement during the transitional period. This will require compliance with relevant legislation and minimise the likelihood of fraud, corruption and favouritism as well as unfair and irregular practices.