Techno-security in prisons
There were fewer prison breaks from South Africa's jails last year compared to 10 years ago.
On the third day of Correctional Services Week yesterday, the government said prison escapes had been reduced by 93percent, from 1244 in 1995 to 93 last year.
The theme for the week's campaign was "a national partnership to correct, rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders for a safer South Africa".
"We have improved security through a reduction of escapes by 93 percent from 1244 in 1995 to 93 in 2006," said Manelisi Wolela, spokesman for the Department of Correctional Services.
Wolela attributed this success to the installation of a state-of-the-art security system in all prisons, with more than R389million allocated for this purpose over four years.
"But our concern is that the type of escapes we are still experiencing are violent and involve corruption, and dangerous offenders."
Wolela said the department was improving its partnership with stakeholders such as Nicro, Sanca and Khula, who all played a critical role in the rehabilitation of offenders.
"We are broadly meeting our targets on improving health facilities in prisons with more HIV-accredited sites introduced.
"Our aim is to optimise public participation in the parole process," said Wolela.
Correctional Services is appointing independent people from communities to chair parole boards and about 62 have been instituted in the country.
"Our challenge with paroles is the manner in which the community treats former offenders when they are released," said Wolela.
He said to deal with this issue the department will open up supervision and parole boards across the country.
"With overcrowding such a huge challenge Correctional Services has increased its staff by 25 percent in the last three years," said Wolela.
He admitted that escorting prisoners was putting a significant strain on their employees, but said the SAPS was also involved in transporting prisoners awaiting trial.
"Juvenile offenders have been reduced by 40percent and the department's stand is that jails are not for children.
"We believe the overcrowding should be dealt with in a radical manner," said Benzi Ka-Soko, Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesman. "Correctional Services does not have attractive packages for medical professionals who are required for both staff and prisoners."