Mr Ronald Lamola
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
Private Bag X256
Mr Arthur Fraser
National Commissioner of Correctional Services
Private Bag X136
Dear Minister Lamola and Commissioner Fraser
The Department of Correctional Services’ continued ill-treatment of corrections graduates: urgent intervention needed
1. I refer to my correspondence of 15 April 2021, over which I am disappointed that your offices have not even taken the time to acknowledge receipt of, with the subject line: “Department’s alleged reneging of employment of 2064 fully trained corrections graduates”.
2. In this letter, I however wish to discuss with you the plight of the balance of learners who, as I have been informed, has not been appointed in terms of National Commissioner of Correctional Services Arthur Fraser’s communication of 24 April 2021.
3. I have been approached by 107 affected graduate learners, whose names are contained in the attached email that they addressed to me (Annexure A), to make intervention on their behalf.
4. As I understand it, the Department of Correctional Services has had a longstanding practice that, when a group of trainees are permanently employed, it makes way for another to be placed on contract on a probationary basis.
5. I am therefore wholly swayed by this group’s argument that the permanent appointment of the 923 learners should have made way for ±1025 trainees of the 2019/2020 group of graduates to be placed on contract immediately, as auxiliary workers, whilst awaiting Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (Sasseta) certification.
6. Honourable Minister, in particular these graduates feel justifiably betrayed and abandoned by yourself, after a promise you had made in Parliament on 17 July 2019 in a budget vote speech, where you categorically stated that: “Over the next two years (2019-2021), this programme will result in the employment of 2,064 entry level correctional officials, which will bolster the smooth running of the department, as DCS is continuously losing experienced officials on a monthly-basis which has resulted in a serious shortage of staff.” Apparently Chief Deputy Commissioner Human Resources Mokoetsi Patrick Mashibini undertook the same on 7 and 8 November 2019.
7. I find the group’s assertion that since you, Minister Lamola, and your responsible departmental deputies have assumed your respective offices, that the appointment of learners has been problematic to the extreme and that these qualified learners seem to have fallen victim to empty promises.
8. To compound their frustrations, they struggle to find alternative employment. But worse still is that they cannot access government assistance through special social grants and are unable to re-register their dependents for child grants, entirely due to the fact that they are tagged as being employed in government’s systems.
9. What I found most distressing is the paragraph in their email to me which in a few words describe their lives as heads of families (meaning that the impact of their dire situation stretches far beyond themselves), of debts piling up and how devastating this situation is on their mental health and by extension that of their families.
10. I sincerely hope that this letter will move your offices to some action. If at the very least that you acknowledge the problem by responding to my letters, but more critically that you are responsible for honouring your commitments and that you resolve this crisis as soon as possible.
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement