Correctional centres: Full-colour adverts in Sunday newspapers show Minister has wrong priorities
James Selfe, Shadow Minister of Correctional Services
23 January 2011
The Department of Correctional Services occupies an absolutely critical role in winning the war against crime. Unless the inmates in correctional centres are properly rehabilitated and their behaviour corrected, crime will continue to escalate. It is therefore crucial that the Department focuses its efforts on fixing what needs to be fixed, so that it can fulfil this role. Amongst the things that urgently need fixing are the high levels of overcrowding, the infestation of prison gangs, the ongoing incidents of corruption, the poor levels of compliance to the law and policy, and lack of alignment with the principles that underpin the White Paper.
It is therefore unbelievable that, instead of giving her undivided attention to these matters, the Minister has placed extravagant, full-colour, half-page advertisements in some weekend newspapers inviting proposals to change the names of some correctional centres and management areas, including Johannesburg, Pretoria Central, Barberton, Pollsmoor, St Albans and East London. While the DA supports the renaming of places and institutions whose current names are offensive or insensitive, none of the names of the management areas or correctional centres, identified by the Minister for renaming, appear to do anything else but describe their physical location. Moreover, the Minister has given the public only until 4 February to comment, which implies that this is a token consultation anyway.
The DA regards this as reckless and an irresponsible waste of money. We will be raising this matter by way of Parliamentary questions and in the portfolio committee. The Minister seems incapable of understanding that her Department faces challenges of crisis proportions. Instead of dealing with the challenges, she indulges in tokenism of the worst kind.