Prisons boss warns of crisis
2/9/2010 4:37:01 PM
Cape Town - A maintenance backlog at prisons is reaching crisis point, correctional services chief deputy commissioner Teboho Motseki told MPs on Tuesday.
The budget allocated to public works - responsible for planned maintenance in South Africa's overcrowded prisons - was not enough, he told members of Parliament's correctional services portfolio committee.
An area of particular concern was prison kitchens, which each day produced meals for an estimated 165 000 offenders.
"If the department of public works does not increase its budget, very soon we are going to be dealing with a crisis," Motseki said.
Another area of concern was the emergency generators at prisons, used to run essential services in the event of a power outage. These too needed maintaining.
According to a document tabled at the briefing, the public works budget for correctional services maintenance was R574m for the 2009/10 financial year.
Correctional services manage over 200 centres, including prisons, offices and training facilities, around the country.
Asked after the briefing to put a figure on the size of the maintenance backlog, Motseki declined to do so.
"I can't give you that figure... but it's a big problem," he said.
Committee chairperson Vincent Smith questioned why the department had not by now struck a service level agreement (SLA) with public works, four years after the departments signed a memorandum of understanding on the matter.
"I don't understand - four years down the line and you still don't have an SLA, but you're dealing with a multi-million-rand budget," he said.
According to a document tabled at the meeting by public works, the SLA is currently in draft form, waiting for certain service delivery standards to be "refined".