The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services today heard that in all the reported cases on alleged abuse of power by Department of Correctional Services (DCS) it has been proven that, on a balance of probabilities, that the department acted correctly in all of them.
Acting Committee Chairperson Mr Qubudile Richard Dyantyi said on the face it seems the DCS management acted within its powers and followed all protocols. The engagement follows complaints received by the committee about the manner in which internal disciplinary matters are handled by DCS management. "The committee will continue to monitor the outstanding matters and all allegations brought to its attention by officials."
The committee heard that the alleged abuse of power cannot be proven in all the reported cases. Most of cases were appealed, but these appeals were dismissed and the final dismissal outcome was maintained. Furthermore, allegations of abuse of power levelled against the DCS could not be verified in any of these cases. The investigation into the allegations was conducted by external, independent arbiters and not by departmental officials. The DCS claims that the officials making the complaints acted in an unprofessional manner and brought the DCS into disrepute.
The committee heard that 12 officials laid 11 charges of abuse of power. Of these, eight disciplinary hearings were taken on review externally by the officials concerned. No referral was made in the remaining three cases. Six cases are before the Labour Court. One of these cases has been finalised in favour of the DCS and five are still pending. The charges relate to smuggling prohibited substances, having intimate relations with offenders and being absent from work without notice. Most of the complaints originate in Gauteng, primarily from Modderbee and Johannesburg management areas, and in the Western Cape at the regional commissioner's office.
The DCS maintains that it followed due process in each case and that an independent arbiter was involved in each matter until conclusion. The DCS remains committed to improving the effectiveness of its rehabilitation process by eliminating official misconduct that contravenes the DCS's mandate.
The committee also received a briefing on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill. The bill arises from a Constitutional Court judgement that declared some sections of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act as well as sections of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid. This is because they prohibit the private use, possession or cultivation of cannabis by an adult. Mr Dyantyi said that the bill will require collaboration from several government departments.