Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola says despite a decrease in overcrowding at corrections centres, the system remains under pressure and projects to add more beds are near completion.
He said this when he tabled the department’s budget vote during a mini-plenary of the National Assembly on Thursday.
“Overcrowding in our facilities continues to be a perennial challenge that requires holistic attention in terms of crime deterrence by our communities. For as a long as people continue to commit crime, we are thus left vulnerable to possible overcrowding in correctional centres.
“Although there has been a reduction in the inmate population over the years, the correctional system remains under pressure,” he said.
Lamola said over a period of five years, from 2015/16 to 2020/21, the department has recorded a reduction of 12.99%.
In real figures, there was a shift from 161 984 to 140 948.
“Sadly, there are spikes that we often encounter. What cannot be avoided is the fact that overcrowding is brought by external factors to Correctional Services.”
Lamola said the construction of additional bed space at Parys has achieved 85% completion and is scheduled to be finalised during the 2023/2024 financial year.
“This upgrade project will provide an additional 176 bed spaces,” he said.
The upgrade and refurbishment of the Emthonjeni Youth Centre will regain a total of 640 bed spaces and transform the centre into a state-of-the-art Integrated Security Systems facility.
“This project is scheduled for completion during the 2022/23 financial year.”
Lamola said another milestone is the refurbishment of the Umzimkulu Correctional Centre which was finalised during the 2021/22 financial year. The facility will be operationalised during the current financial year.
“Work is also continuing when it comes to the welfare of our officials. The Waterval Management Area was struck by a Tornado in 2019, leaving serious destruction to the centre and the residential area of our officials.
“As a result, the officials whose houses were damaged became displaced and had to be relocated elsewhere on the terrain.
“We are pleased to announce that the refurbishment of 42 staff houses will be finalised during the month of June 2022.”