POPCRU concerned about developments at the Mangaung Correctional Centre


The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) is concerned about the snail’s pace at which the total transfer of the Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC) has been conducted.

During this protracted transfer, we have witnessed with concern orchestrated attacks on employees on the one hand, and on the other the Security company’s resistance to relinquish the contract through the use of courts.

This call comes after the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) had to extend the Security company’s contract by three months to allow the courts to decide if the department had fairly ended the 22-year-old contract it had with MCC to manage the Bloemfontein prison, as they were supposed to have taken over the prison on August 31 2023, following the termination of the contract in May 2023.

It was in the notice of this termination that the MCC approached the courts and claimed that the termination was done unfairly and prematurely, and this culminated in a court order directing the department and MCC to seek mediation in their dispute. This demonstrated the extent to which some still want to benefit out of this futile arrangement.

With government continuing to spend almost R1 billion of taxpayers’ monies on the two private prisons in the country, it comes as no surprise that they would want to hold onto the contracts despite having clearly demonstrated to disregard human rights. Beside the moral and ethical arguments about prison privatisation, there is ample operational evidence that the policy itself is flawed. The fact that the human rights dimension of private prisons has not been fully examined, is a dereliction of duty.

We remain of the view that the provision of law and order is the key function of any government. This duty should not be delegated to the private sector, because it is motivated by profit. Money that could be allocated to services is creamed off in profits and fees for consultants and advisory schemes; the private sector becomes even more entrenched in criminal justice policy-making; and the fuse is lit on a financial time bomb. So far private prisons have failed to demonstrate that they are cost-effective, innovative, and have lower recidivism rates.

Any prison that is being built should contribute to crime prevention by rehabilitating prisoners and reducing repeat incarceration, and for this, we urge the DCS to fast-track the process of terminating these contracts, and further demand that all employees the centre, who are at the coalface performing custodial duties are absorbed into the DCS as they have been appointed in terms of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 2018 as fully-fledged correctional officials with all due benefits.

We shall further ensure that Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) is followed to the latter during this absorption period while, and that no member loses their job.

Issued by POPCRU

For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 166 135 4349