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Correctional services to save R163m as prisoners produce their own food, says Lamola

19 May 2022 - 21:51
Ronald Lamola told parliament on Thursday that some prisons were producing their own vegetables and meat. File photo.
Ronald Lamola told parliament on Thursday that some prisons were producing their own vegetables and meat. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

The department of correctional services expects to save R163m in the coming year as a result of prisoners producing their own food.

Correctional services minister Ronald Lamola told parliament on Thursday that due to government resources being constrained, in some prisons inmates were producing their vegetables and meat as a result of a departmental self-sufficiency strategic framework which also has a restorative-justice element.

“I am happy to inform this august house that vegetables costs have also been significantly reduced in the department,” he said.

Lamola, who was presenting the budget vote for the department of correctional services, revealed that eight out of 48 prisons were no longer buying cabbage, spinach, beetroot or onions and they produce enough to supply inmates with rations.

“We will increase the number of management areas that are able to do so in the current financial year. Gone are the days offenders eat for free,” he added.

Lamola said Goedemoed in Free State, Kirkwood in the Eastern Cape, Rooigrond (North West), Waterval (KwaZulu-Natal) and Zonderwater in Gauteng were now fully sustainable on red meat, while Drakenstein prison in the Western Cape and Zonderwater were no longer procuring chicken.

“The estimated cost savings as a result of implementing self-sufficiency initiatives in the department amount to R163m.”

Lamola said the department took a policy decision affirming that correctional services has to find means to self-sustain. The department has farms, land, dairies, bakeries, workshops and many other amenities which position it to survive without having to rely on government funding. So, it adopted an innovative way to save costs and efficiently use the allocated resources, he said.

“So far, self-sufficiency has set the department on the right course to save taxpayers money and position the department to have a restorative justice impact in communities,” said Lamola.

He said the savings will be invested back into the department and that the National Treasury had approved 100% retention of revenue generated through self-sufficiency.

He said they are planning to heighten production in the livestock and plant production farms and textile workshops and have invested in new machinery that will help in the mass production of uniforms for both inmates and officials.

“We are training inmates and officials to run production lines with our new machines. The target is simple —  upskill inmates and increase our production capacity,” he said.

Transferring skills to inmates remained an important programme of the department, Lamola said.

“We want inmates, upon their release, to re-enter their communities with marketable skills and become productive citizens,” he added.

Lamola said during the 2021/22 financial year, 90% of sentenced offenders with correctional sentence plans completed correctional programmes.

He said offenders participated in long occupation skills programmes, short occupational skills programmes, TVET college programmes, general education and training, further education and training (FET) and the grade 12 national senior certificate.  

The government has budgeted R87.2m for training of 5,480 offenders who will be provided with needs-based skills development opportunities as part of their rehabilitation.

The department is looking at covering more ground through its in-house built programme and it is already repairing tower posts to augment its security infrastructure. The in-house built programme will also be covering the construction of community corrections offices, said Lamola. 

The correctional services budget for the 2022/23 financial year is R26.1bn with R15.2bn for incarceration, R 4.6bn for administration, R2.6bn for care, R2.3bn for rehabilitation and R1.2bn for social reintegration.

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