Mr Ronald Lamola
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
Private Bag X256
Mr Arthur Fraser
National Commissioner of Correctional Services
Private Bag X136
Dear Honourable Minister Lamola and Commissioner Fraser
Department’s alleged reneging of employment of 2064 fully trained corrections graduates
1. I was recently approached by representatives of 2064 graduates of the Correctional Services Learnership programme at the Department of Corrections’ Training Colleges in Zonderwater and Kroonstad of the 2018/19 and 2019/2020 training cycles.
2. As I understand it, the Department of Correctional Services had already mooted the idea last year and has now permanently filled 2000 vacancies with South African National Defence Force (SANDF) reserve force members.
3. Government has touted the Correctional Services Learnership programme as “part of the government’s National Skills Development Strategy to create skills and ease poverty and unemployment” and yet these graduates find themselves without jobs and tossed out on the streets by the very same, now seeming uncaring, government.
4. According to these graduates, their learnership contracts specify that they will be absorbed into the permanent workforce, yet government covered itself by inserting a 30-day out-clause in their contracts. What is the use of government’s plans and promises if it inserts such a clause to protect itself?
5. Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo was quoted in The Star saying that learners who had recently completed training “have not been dumped”. Yet, the testimony of the graduates of both the 2018/19 and 2019/2020 training cycles is that they have been unceremoniously “dumped”, plus they spent more than a year of their lives to obtain a useless qualification as the monopoly employer of corrections officials does not want to employ them.
6. Why did government even bother to invest in the training of these 2064 graduates for two cycles, if it does not plan to even utilise them, and the next cycle of training for new entrants into the programme has already started? What chance does the new crop of trainees stand?
7. It would also stand to reason that newly appointed SANDF reserve force members would need/has needed specialised corrections training to work in the prison environment, as was alluded to in The Star article, which would require additional funding. It also seems a little strange for the Department of Correctional Services to simply discard purposely trained personnel, in favour of purposely trained military personnel.
8. Besides what appears to be nothing more than immoral and unfair treatment of these corrections graduates, there are allegations of legal and administrative malpractices, such as that the majority of them did not even receive letters of termination of their contracts.
9. I attach a letter from Reverend Bonga Joka, a graduate of the 2019/2020 class, to provide further context and to point out that it is a case of double jeopardy for these graduates as they cannot even apply for government grants, because they have persal numbers at the Department.
10. Since I have been asked to intervene in the matter, I rely on your good office to shed light on the matter and I in turn request your urgent intervention to salvage government’s investment and rescue these 2064 graduates from destitution.
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement