Correctional Services

Role players




The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is mandated to place offenders in a secure, safe and humane environment, and ensure that rehabilitation and successful reintegration programmes are implemented. This mandate is derived from the Correctional Services Act, 1998 (Act 111 of 1998), the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977  (Act 51 of 1977), the 2005 White Paper on Corrections in South Africa, and the 2014 White Paper on Remand Detention Management in South Africa.

This legislation allows the DCS to contribute to the preservation and promotion of a just, peaceful and safe society by ensuring that the corrections environment is secure, safe and humane, and that offenders are optimally rehabilitated to reduce their likelihood of reoffending.

The NDP articulates a vision for a safer South Africa by 2030, and this vision is supported by Priority 5 (social cohesion and safe communities) of government’s 2019 – 2024 MTSF. 

The department’s overarching objectives are to detain inmates in safe, secure and humane conditions in correctional centres and remand detention facilities; provide sentenced offenders with needs‐based rehabilitation programmes and interventions; and reintegrate offenders into communities as law‐abiding citizens by effectively managing non-custodial sentences and parole. To achieve these objectives, over the period ahead, the department will focus on implementing its selfsufficiency and strategic framework, providing adequate security at correctional facilities, and facilitating restorative justice.

In response to budget constraints, over the period ahead, the department plans to become more self‐sufficient. This will entail running production workshops and agricultural farms aimed at upskilling and rehabilitating offenders by training them to produce items – such as furniture, uniforms, shoes, baked goods and agricultural products that can be sold or used within the department.

The department has 21 big farms and 115 small gardens, nine bakeries, 19 textile workshops, 10 steel workshops, 10 wood workshops, and one shoe factory, where products are produced for own use. Apart from enhancing offenders’ employability beyond incarceration, the department has an opportunity to contribute to poverty alleviation and job creation within communities and forge good working relationship between centres and communities.

Departmental farms produce various products including, vegetable, fruits, red meat, pork, milk, butter, chicken, eggs and animal fodder. In this regard, the department runs the following operations:

  • 16 orchards nationally, making it possible to provide fruits needed
  • for inmates;
  • 20 farms that have potential to produce fodder for animals feed;
  • 17 dairies nationally;
  • 15 piggery projects nationally that produce pork inmates; and
  • Seven layers nationally.

The department plans to supplement these potential income streams by hiring out offender labour.

Providing adequate security and security equipment at
correctional facilities

Over the next three years, the department aims to keep the percentage of escapes at or below 0.031% and the percentage of injuries at less than 4.6%. To achieve this, it will enhance its security operations by providing personnel with appropriate equipment, including body armour, ammunition, leg irons, handcuffs, metal detectors, tonfas, gas or fire filters, pepper spray, neutralisers and mobile parcel scanners. To provide for this, R24.7 billion is allocated in the Security Operations subprogramme in the Incarceration programme.

Improving facilities

To continue implementing strategies to reduce expected overcrowding in correctional facilities, over the next three years, the department will provide for the construction and refurbishment of facilities.

This will ensure that a targeted 1 000 additional bed spaces are made available over the next three years. Funding for this is provided through the Facilities subprogramme, which is allocated R13.8 billion in the Incarceration programme.

Effective rehabilitation

The department aimed to continue ensuring that all sentenced offenders are provided with effective rehabilitation programmes to enable their successful reintegration into society. In its efforts to achieve this, the department will implement programmes that focus on addressing the underlying causes of offending behaviour, providing educational and vocational training to offenders to improve their life skills and employability upon release, and continuing to implement the self‐sufficiency and sustainability framework.

The framework is intended to guide the department towards finding innovative ways to generate its own revenue and contribute to economic development while upskilling and rehabilitating offenders.

Implementing the framework primarily entails running production workshops and agricultural farms where offenders are trained to produce items – such as furniture, uniforms, shoes, baked goods and agricultural products – that can be sold or used within the department.

The department plans to supplement these potential income streams by hiring out offender labour. The percentage of sentenced offenders on correctional sentence plans is expected to remain at 84% over the period ahead, and 90% of offenders are expected to participate in occupational skills programmes. All funding related to the rehabilitation of offenders is provided through the Rehabilitation programme, which has a total budget of R7 billion over the next three years.

Reintegrating offenders into society

In its efforts to enable the effective reintegration of offenders into society, the department provides aftercare support through the facilitation of programmes and skills that seek to assist parolees and former offenders to be self‐sufficient.

To reintegrate offenders into the system of community corrections, all parole considerations should include victim participation to provide a platform for dialogue between offenders and victims, and thereby contribute to healing and restoration. The department plans to increase the number of victims participating in dialogues and other restorative justice programmes from 4 100 in 2022/23 to 5 900 in 2025/26.

These activities are carried out through an allocation of R5.1 billion in the Social Reintegration programme.

Role players

National Council for Correctional Services (NCCS)

The NCCS is a statutory body that guides the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services in developing policy relating to the correctional system and the sentence-management process.

Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services

The JICS was established in 1998 with the statutory objective to facilitate the inspection of correctional centres so that the inspecting judge may report on the treatment of inmates and on conditions in correctional centres. The JICS is an independent office.

Medical Parole Advisory Board

The Correctional Matters Amendment Act, 2011 (Act 5 of 2011), provides for a new medical parole policy and correctional supervision. The Medical Parole Advisory Board was appointed in February 2012 to look into all seriously and terminally ill inmates who have submitted reports requesting to be released on medical grounds.

Correctional supervision and parole board

Correctional supervision and parole boards are responsible for dealing with parole matters and matters of correctional supervision.

The boards have decision-making competency except for:

In such cases, recommendations are submitted to courts that, in turn, make decisions in respect of conditional placement.

There are 53 correctional supervision and parole boards in South Africa. These boards are chaired by community members who are regarded as suitable and capable of carrying out the responsibilities by virtue of occupation, standing or cultural reverence. The DCS provides the members with intensive training in respect of the processes, legislative implications and relative policies.

In addition, two members of the community are appointed as members of the board. Trained staff members of the DCS fill the positions of vice-chairperson and secretary.

A board can also co-opt a representative of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and a representative of the DoJ&CD. However, if the representatives of the SAPS and of DoJ&CD are not co-opted to participate in a board hearing, the chairperson of the board may request the departments to provide written inputs in respect of specific serious crimes.

Source: South Africa Yearbook 2022/23

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