Mangaung prison an unaffordable strain for correctional service
DCS reveals its paid more than R7bn to G4S for infamous Mangaung prison
Two private prisons are eating into the finances of the department of correctional services which has to fork out millions of rand a month under the deal.
Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola detailed the costs of the private prisons, including the maximum security Mangaung Correctional Centre where “Facebook rapist” and murderer Thabo Bester escaped in May 2022.
Addressing parliament's portfolio committee on justice and correctional services on Thursday, Lamola said the department entered the private-public partnership (PPP) with Bloemfontein Correctional Contracts (BCC) in 2000.
This led to a deal with BCC consortium multinational security company G4S, which was subcontracted by the department to operate Mangaung Correctional Centre.
But this came at a price of R7.7bn between 2001 and the 2021/2022 financial year, said Lamola.
“The projection until the end of the contract is about R2.54bn. We are paying R45m a month for this facility.”
While the contract is expected to end in June 2026, the department was seeking legal opinion on an early termination.
Meanwhile, Kutuma Sinthumele Correctional Centre in Limpopo, which is run by American company GEO Group, cost the department R8.9bn since its inception.
The department pays R44m a month.
While these facilities are value for money and help relieve overcrowding in prisons, Lamola said affordability of such contracts was of concern.
“The department is experiencing significant affordability constraints in meeting its contractual obligations in relation to the two PPP prisons, but we have a contract and we must honour it.”
The department instituted a civil case of R110m against G4S for invoking section 112 of the Correctional Service Act in 2013. This matter was before the courts.
SAPS and the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) also made presentations to the committee on Bester's escape.
SAPS admitted they had known about Bester’s faked death since last year, but MPs questioned why the public were not warned against a dangerous escaped convict.
Police minister Bheki Cele said announcing Bester’s escape was a “catch 22" situation. It would have warned him and his accomplices to avoid arrest.
“Though we must be sympathetic with the victims, but remember, for some time, there was this contradiction even within the agencies to say if [Bester] was in [the cell] when it was established [that he possibly escaped].
The JICS confirmed Bester's lover, Dr Nandipha Magudumana’s behaviour made them suspicious.
According to Inspecting Judge Edwin Cameron, Magudumana was persistent in claiming the supposed body of Bester at the police station.
After her request was halted, she brought an urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court to claim the body.
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