Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
31 Oct 2018
6:55 am

Rehab programmes a saving grace in overcrowded, underfunded prisons

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

Leeuwkop prison’s programmes include carpentry, upholstery, a piggery and a dairy, but these programmes need more funding in order to succeed.

Inmates at Leeuwkop prison. Image: Twitter/@SAgovnews

Gauteng’s correctional facilities need more money to fund rehabilitation programmes, because despite 75% of the correctional services budget going to salaries, many of them were understaffed and overcrowded.

This is according to the Gauteng regional commissioner provincial correctional services department Thakane Molathedi, who took journalists on a tour of one of the province’s most overcrowded prisons at Leeuwkop Correctional Services.

The commissioner said, like provincial departments across the country, balancing priorities in Gauteng’s R4 billion correctional service budget between existing salaries, hiring more staff and funding the security and operational needs of the department was difficult.

The province currently held 37 120 inmates.

Yesterday, departmental spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the financial constraints were a symptom of a national funding and staffing shortage, but the cash-strapped department was “doing the best we can”.

In a statement, Nxumalo outlined the constraints affecting such essential areas as security inside prisons.

“The fiscus is experiencing severe strain and it is affecting the department in terms of sourcing component officials as well as to maintain the appropriate ratio of inmates to officials.

“The department will only be able to afford a funded staff establishment of 39 621, 39 895 and 39 980 respectively over the [medium term expenditure framework].”

The department said it was concerned about the 50 inmates who managed to escape in the 2017-2018 financial year.

“In as much as we managed to ensure that 90% of them were recaptured, we have to make it impossible for inmates to break our security system.”

The Leeukop’s “exemplary” rehabilitation programme boasted a fully operational carpentry and upholstery facility, a piggery and a dairy, all of which manufactured products used by inmates and department staff.

For Thomas Price, an inmate serving a 13-year sentence for theft and housebreaking, the facility not only helped him kick his drug addiction, he told The Citizen, he acquired carpentry skills which could help him find employment, or start his own business when he goes back to his Krugersdorp home.

Moses Miya, 46, who was completing a joinery and carpentry programme at the facility, is due to complete his seven-year sentence in two years, after which he hoped to open his own company.

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