Correctional Services head must explain series of jailbreaks

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Justice Portfolio Committee, Mathole Motshekga MP, to request that he summon the acting national Justice and Correctional Services Commissioner, Mandla Mkabela, to urgently brief the committee on what steps the department is taking to tighten security in prisons.

Less than a month after six inmates broke out of Pollsmoor prison in the Western Cape, it was reported this week that 16 prisoners had escaped from Johannesburg Correctional Centre, known as ‘Sun City’ prison. These escapes are concerning and have exposed weaknesses in the country’s prison system.

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, must also account for why there has not been a permanent appointment made in the position of national Justice and Correctional Services Commissioner since Zach Modise retired in mid-2017.

Parliament is empowered to intervene when national departments are failing to carry out their mandated duties and there appears to be a trend of prison escapes which needs to be addressed immediately.

The DA will support Parliament in its role of holding public representatives accountable for their departments’ shortcomings.

It is vital that we get answers about the recent prison escapes and ensure greater security at the country’s correctional institutions.

Schabir Shaik’s medical parole needs to be revisited by the courts

The DA will write to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, to invite him to take the matter of Schabir Shaik’s parole to Court to determine whether he should return to prison to serve the rest of his term of imprisonment, or whether his parole conditions should be altered in such a way that the South African public no longer have to be fed the lie that he is still terminally ill – eight years after his release.
Early in April 2009, Mr Schabir Shaik was released on medical parole from imprisonment after serving just more than two years of a fifteen-year sentence under the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act. Of the short time he served, much of it was in hospital. Mr Shaik had been Mr Zuma’s financial adviser, and many of the offences for which he was convicted were closely connected with Mr Zuma’s alleged role in the defence acquisition programme. Mr Zuma became the President two months after Mr Shaik was released.
At the time of his release, medical parole was considered and granted in terms of section 79 of the Correctional Services Act, which, at that time, read as follows:
“Any person serving any sentence in a prison and who, based on the written evidence of the medical practitioner treating that person, is diagnosed as being in the final phase of any terminal disease or condition may be considered for placement under correctional supervision or parole….to die a consolatory and dignified death.”
According to a reply to a DA parliamentary question, Mr Shaik is still alive and well, so much so that his parole conditions allow him to play one afternoon of sport.
He has not died “a consolatory and dignified death” eight years after his release, and frankly, he is so well that his parole conditions allow him, with permission, to travel to other provinces.
It is clear that he was never “in the final phase of any terminal disease or condition”. The medical practitioner on whose diagnosis he was released was performing community service at the time.
The Health Professions Council refused to launch an enquiry into this charade, and Mr Shaik walked free, doubtless in the expectation of a presidential pardon, for which he applied shortly thereafter, and which was quite correctly refused.
Everyone knows that his release was political expedience at its ugliest. To its credit, Parliament amended this provision in the Act after his release, making release on medical parole far more rigorous.
Yet we still sit with this situation: a person who was quite clearly released erroneously, but much more likely released fraudulently, on medical parole, who continues to make a mockery of the medical parole system.
Should the Minister fail or refuse to do this, the DA will consider its options, including, even at this stage, reviewing the rationality of the decision to grant Mr Shaik medical parole.

Shabir Shaik still ‘terminally ill’ after 8 years

A reply to a DA parliamentary question details how the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, considers convicted fraudster, Mr Shabir Shaik, to still be terminally ill, a full eight years after he was first unlawfully released on parole for ‘health’ reasons.
Despite being terminally ill, Mr Shaik’s house arrest conditions have been relaxed to accommodate his needs. These include:

  • Attending school functions for his son 17h00 to 19h00.
  • Working hours from 08h00 to 18h30 – Monday to Friday.
  • Attending sports once a week from 12h00 to 19h00.
  • travel outside the Province, on application for leave of absence

It is quite astounding that a terminally ill man is able to work and attend sports, should he wish.
It is also shocking that the last time his parole was assessed was two years ago.
The reason for Mr Shaik’s release on parole 8 years ago was clearly a farce – he appears no closer to death today than he did at the time.
Those responsible for this abuse and mockery of the parole system must be tracked down and held to account.

DA’s urgent debate on Violence Against Women scheduled for Thursday

The DA welcomes Parliament acceding to our request for an urgent debate of national importance on violence against women, which will go ahead in the National Assembly, on Thursday 01 June 2017.
I publicly call today for Ministers Fikile Mbalula, Susan Shabangu and Michael Masutha to address this debate. Their portfolios of Police, Women and Justice are key to protecting women in South Africa and the people of our country deserve that they come before Parliament and account. They must address the nation on their plans and emergency responses to the spate of violence across our nation.
The scourge of violence against women has been highlighted recently by the string of publicised horrific attacks and murders of Karabo Mokoena, Lerato Moloi, Bongeka Phungula, Popi Qwabe, Courtney Pieters and Sasha Arendse, among many others.
The fact is that violence against women and children occurs on a daily basis, and without focussed government intervention is only increasing.
The ANC government has entirely abandoned its responsibility to make our country safe for women by not properly addressing issues of gender violence and patriarchy. But on Thursday, the Ministers who are mandated to ensure safety and increasing empowerment of women, have a chance to take the nation into their confidence. Ministers Mbalula, Shabangu and Masutha have a lot of answering to do, and the DA fully expects that they will engage this debate with the seriousness it demands.
The fact is that often ANC Ministers also actively contribute to the perpetuation of undermining women, such as the Minister of Women, Susan Shabangu’s, comments that Karabo Mokoena was “weak” and therefore became a victim of abuse which ended in her murder. Worse still was the Minister’s refusal to apologise and retract her statements, but only to clarify them with equally dangerous adjectives.
Mbalula, Shabangu and Masutha need to account to the National Assembly and to the country as to why they have failed on this issue and state what government policies, strategies and programmes are in place to end this suffering. Empty promises and failed plans of action have done nothing to keep our women safe to date.
Thursday’s debate is fundamentally important for addressing the nation on this critical issue. Parliament, and the implicated Ministers in particular, must use this opportunity to seek and implement effective solutions and to rise in defence of women and children who far too often fall victim to violence.

Eskom: Zuma undermines Parliament with Ministerial Task Team

President Jacob Zuma’s announcement that an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) will be established to investigate the very serious problems at Eskom, rather than Parliament, as the body mandated to oversee and ensure the smooth running of the entity, has flatly undermined Parliament.
The President is clearly deathly scared of the evidence which will emerge from a full-scale and transparent Parliamentary Inquiry.
Murmurs yesterday that the Parliamentary Inquiry could summon the Guptas and Duduzane Zuma to appear must have been frightening to President Zuma.
Zuma’s IMC will be made up of the Ministers of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, Energy, Mmamoloko Kubayi, Finance, Malusi Gigaba, and Justice and Correctional services, Michael Masutha – all Ministers firmly behind Zuma, and many with their own reputations of being captured.
We cannot accept that Zuma’s cheerleader ministers, and captured ministers, could possibly deliver a credible investigation into the very of capture at Eskom by the Zuma-Gupta Mafia.
Parliament is the only body that is empowered to oversee and investigate the level of rot at Eskom and it is only a full-scale Parliamentary Inquiry that can get to the bottom this.
The DA and South Africa will not stand for anything less.
The DA has already confirmed that there is broad bi-partisan support for a full-scale Parliamentary Inquiry into Eskom and Brian Molefe’s bizarre reinstatement.
Now is the time for the Public Enterprises Committee to step up, and not allow Jacob Zuma to sweep this under the carpet.
The DA welcomes the fact that the Portfolio Committee has already broadly agreed to proceed with a Parliamentary Inquiry and look forward to completing this investigation and restoring the integrity of Eskom for the benefit of the public.

DA requests meeting with NDPP Shaun Abrahams over indecision on Zuma Nkandla charges

Last week, I wrote to the Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha, requesting that he urgently see to it that a decision is taken on the already concluded investigation into the eight charges of corruption regarding the Nkandla scandal I laid against President Jacob Zuma in March 2014.
In a vague reply, the Minister of Justice stated that he would not intervene, but would continue to “monitor the situation”. This response is wholly inadequate and shows a Minister who is compromised and refuses to take responsibility, preferring to continue to defend and shield  Jacob Zuma.
I have therefore requested an urgent meeting with the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv. Shaun Abrahams, in order to press the matter with him personally. As the complainant in this case, I cannot accept that a decision still hasn’t been taken in over 3 years. If no commitment is made by Adv Abrahams in this meeting, we will be left with no choice but to approach the courts to compel the National Prosecuting Authority to take a decision to either charge or not charge President Jacob Zuma for his role in the Nkandla scandal.
The Minister of Police has stated in a reply to my Written Parliamentary Question that the investigation “has been concluded”, and that “the case docket was handed into the office of the NDPP on 21 August 2015, for a decision on prosecution”. And since August 2015, the NPA has seemingly avoided this matter in its entirety.
This matter is not a complicated one. An investigation has been concluded, and the docket has been sent to the NPA. The role of the NPA is simple – it must decide to either prosecute Jacob Zuma or not prosecute Jacob Zuma.
The NPA cannot carry out a mandate of selective prosecution. This is a direct violation of its duty to prosecute without fear, favour or prejudice. Mr Abrahams faces the simple task of doing his job by prosecuting any citizen who has a case to answer for, even if that person happens to be the Head of State.

DA requests debate of national importance on violence against women

The DA has today written to National Assembly Speaker, Baleka Mbete, requesting a debate of national public importance on violence against women in terms of National Assembly Rule 130.
A recent string of utterly shocking cases has brought to light the scourge of violence against women which is plaguing our country:
• In March 2017, 11-year old Stasha Arendse was kidnapped, raped and killed;
• On 4 April 2017, a Grade 2 girl was raped by Grade 7 boys at her school. On 28 April 2017, 22-year old Karabo Mokoena was reported missing and on 29 April 2017, her body was recovered, having been necklaced and thrown in a ditch; and
• In the last 17 days, 15-year old Nombuyiselo was burned to death; 3-year old Courtney Pieters was allegedly raped twice by a 40-year old man and then murdered; a 2-year old girl was allegedly raped and killed by her father; and Popi Qwabe, Bongeka Phungula, Lerato Moloi and an unidentified woman were all found dead in Soweto.
While this scourge has rightly received increased attention in the past days, the sad truth is that this is not a new occurrence. Women in South Africa are routinely subjected to these most horrific incidents, and they occur without the same media attention.
When this debate is scheduled we will demand that Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, Women Minister, Susan Shabangu, and Justice Minister, Michael Masutha, partake in this debate because they have been quiet on the issue and have had no solutions to make South Africa a safer place for women, for too long.
The ANC government has completely failed in its duty to make our society safer for all members, and specifically for women, by not tackling issues of patriarchy and gender violence, further compounded by ineffective policing and often police indifference to serious cases.
The DA, therefore, believes that it is absolutely crucial for the issue to be debated by Parliament. We will require clear plans from the implicated Ministers, and we will hold them to account.
Mbalula, Shabangu and Masutha need to account to the National Assembly and indeed to the nation on why their departments have failed to date on this issue and what will be done going forward to bring this suffering to an end.
As a nation we need to stand up, men and women alike, in defence of women and say that enough is enough.