Cape Town: A feasibility study should be carried out to assess how ready correctional centres are for the installation of CCTV cameras, Lennard De Sousa, manager of inspections at the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS), told Parliament today.
The National Assembly’s portfolio committee on correctional services has been meeting with stakeholders over the last year to formulate a proposal to have CCTV cameras installed in correctional centres.
The Department of Correctional Services has not yet conducted any feasibility study on the use of CCTV cameras in prison facilities but Correctional Services Chief Operations Officer Nontsikelelo Jolingana told the committee that the department was carrying out desktop research to formulate its view on the putting in place of CCTV cameras in prisons.
Briefing the committee, De Sousa, who has compiled a paper on the idea of putting CCTV cameras in prisons, pointed out that such a feasibility study needed to consider staffing and training requirements as well as whether facilities in the prison allowed for the installation of a CCTV network.
Stakeholders that the committee has met with have expressed some concern that CCTV in prisons may encroach on the privacy and hence constitutional rights of inmates.
But De Sousa said he didn’t believe the encroachment on individuals’ privacy would be an issue in communal cells where inmates already enjoyed very little privacy, but could be of concern in single cells or in bathroom areas.
One exception, however, could be the bathroom areas of inmates on suicide watch and De Sousa said CCTV cameras should be installed in bathrooms as these were often used by those on suicide watch, to take their own life.
He did stress, however, that any images captured on the prisons’ CCTV system needed to be kept private and not be released to the public.
Said De Sousa: “We don’t want to see images of prisoners on YouTube.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works today also updated the committee on the progress of the R220 million Vanrhynsdorp and R182 million Ceres prisons.
The Ceres prison is two years overdue, while the Vanrhynsdorp prison is expected to be completed in November.
The Department of Public Works’ director of projects, Ellie van der Hoven, said an additional R55.7 million and R10.5 million was needed respectively on the Vanrhynsdorp and Ceres prisons after further work had to be carried out and after a change in the specifications of certain building materials.
This, together with bad weather, had led to the delays in completing the projects.
Van der Hoven said contractors were still involved in completing both prisons and had been slapped with penalties after falling behind in the completion of work.
To ensure that the department was ready for new contracts announced by the Minister in May to set up new prisons, the Department of Correctional Services would increase its capacity to monitor design and construction of prisons and relook at whether to award two major contracts to any contractor who was inexperienced in building the design the department needed.
Committee chairman Vincent Smith called for a joint report by the end of November on progress made by both departments on the two prisons.