Popcru slams prison system

Date: 06 Nov 2019

CRIME is escalating in South Africa because most police and correctional services managers only have matric and they lack relevant academic qualifications, said Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) president Zizamele Cebekhulu.

Delivering a political overview report during the first day of Popcru’s ninth elective congress yesterday, Cebekhulu also said the country was full of repeat offenders because they find comfort in prisons.

“We cannot be led by commissioners with standard 10 (Grade 12). We are educated and we cannot be led by the blind.”

He said the Department of Correctional Services should be well resourced to deal with convicted criminals.

“We need a correctional service that would transform criminals to be integrated back into society, and not the correctional service, which is a hotel where whoever is not employed would be able to get food.

“People must be afraid to go to prison, whereas in South Africa people want to go to prison because they can get food, beds and access to TVs.”

He said when President Cyril Ramaphosa, Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola and Police Minister Bheki Cele attend the conference this week they would have to answer to the delegates about their failure to enforce the law.

“Prisons have turned our members into nurses and waiters who supply services to prisoners on a tray.

“We want new prisons to be built in rural areas and farms, so that prisoners will work and taken back to prison tired.

“We cannot live under the current circumstances of Johannesburg and Westville prisons where the prison is located inside urban areas and prisoners are shouting rights from morning to sunset demanding that from the officials.”

He pointed out that law enforcement bodies – the National Prosecuting Authority, police, correctional service and justice – were not working together in fighting crime.

He said while police would arrest suspects the courts would release them “because they (courts) are not aware of what we want to achieve”.

He further highlighted that squabbles among these departments were letting the country down.

“Who told the police that they can fight crime alone and succeed?

“What we see in Cape Town where police declared that ‘we have failed; release soldiers to come and help us’ – we feel it was unnecessary and it is because we lack leaders who understand how to fight crime.”

He said all security cluster ministers should be removed from their positions if they fail to fight crime.

“We say Ndosi (Cele), you were better when you were a police commissioner, but as a minister, we don’t see you.”

However, Justice and Correctional Services Deputy Minister Inkosi Phathekile Holomisa said he was not aware of Popcru’s concern about the criminal justice system.

He said the fight against crime should start with uplifting impoverished people, as they were more prone to commit crime.

“We must be concerned about our young people whose lives are being destroyed by gangs, violence, drugs and alcohol abuse.

“They end up in mortuaries and in our correctional facilities.”

By BONGANI HANS bongani.hans@inl.co.za

For more info see: http://www.iol.co.za/the-star