Durban: The 50/50 male and female representation within the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) staff compliment is non-negotiable, and will be achieved by 2015, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Friday.
“As we encourage humane incarceration, women Correctional Officials will increasingly be the DNA of the strategy to rehabilitation,” Ndebele said.
He was speaking at the Women’s Day Commemoration held at Westville Correctional Centre in Durban.
The minister revealed that as at January 2013, at Deputy Director-General level (salary level 15), gender representativity comprised 58% males and 42% females.
“At salary levels three to seven, there were 72% males and 27% females,” he said, adding that his department must do more to empower women from all groups.
“[Today] South Africa bears little resemblance to our brutal past largely because of the untold sacrifices of women throughout our history.
“As a country and government, we have made significant progress to ensure the empowerment of women and achieve gender equality.”
He made special mention of Helen Leseyane, the winner of the DCS Education and Training Award at the 5th National Corrections Excellence Awards. Leseyane has been featured in The Mail & Guardian’s Book of South African Women, which features the 50 most influential women in South Africa.
Amid ululation, Ndebele laid down the ground rules for women Correctional Services staff, saying their ultimate joy in the profession should be derived from the fact that they were changing people’s lives for the good of society.
“You must be a caring person, and must love people,” he said.
He warned that Correctional Services was not a place for individuals who have failed to secure employment elsewhere. He further encouraged officials to continue to improve their education and skills.
“How else you will succeed in administering a programme like Reading for Redemption if you yourself do not read?” he asked.
In May 2013, 45 students from the University of Zululand, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Correctional Studies. The minister said the department will also provide more opportunities for women to join the profession because of the many advantages women bring in the science of offender rehabilitation and reintegration.
He said women Correctional Officials and those in management positions were not done any favours by men.
“Exercise your authority, when you carry out your duties, and insist to be treated with respect by your male colleagues. Men must respect your personhood, as well as the uniform you wear,” the minister said.
However, he had a stern warning for errant Correctional Services officials.
“Do not to be tempted to bring narcotics into our centres [because] we will show no mercy to those found to be involved in any corrupt, criminal activity, especially passing drugs into our facilities.”