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Balfour: Drakenstein Correctional Centre (27/08/2004)

27th August 2004


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Date: 27/08/2004
Source: Ministry of Correctional Services
Title: N Balfour: Drakenstein Correctional Centre


Programme Director
Reverend Fry
Commissioner Linda Mti
Deputy Regional Commissioner James Smallberger
Area Commissioner Sinclair
Heads of Prisons
Members of Management

It is exactly three months to the day that I addressed some of you at Goodwood when I met the management of the Western Cape. I spent some time addressing the challenges that we face in Correctional Services including issues such as the interests and the responsibilities of members, those of management, the Commissioner and even myself.

Today is not the time for lengthy exchanges between ourselves. The main purpose of this visit is essentially to greet you as management, possibly receive some written updates from the Management Area and then to go to some of the facilities. Of course, you would accompany me to your respective sections in order for me to be informed by you about the nature of the work that you do and to point out some of the challenges but also the achievements.

Ek stel belang daarin om te sien wat ons lede op 'n daaglikse basis doen. Ek wil verstaan waarom ons sekere besluite neem. Ek wil verstaan hoe ons, as die bestuur met lede en gevangenes kommunikeer. Dis belangrik vir my dat ek 'n idee kry hoe julle oor jul werkplek voel.

Uit die staanspoor, wil ek julle bedank dat julle die geleentheid vir my geskep het om hier te wees. Ek waardeer dit. Tweedens, baie dankie vir die werk wat julle verrig, sommige tye onder baie moeilike omstandighede.

I just want to take a short while to address some issues that you as management, have to deal with. As the Minister, I try to live and conduct my work through two very simple principles. Those principles should by now also be part of your everyday life as senior correctional officials. I speak of humility and pride. Ek praat van nederigheid en trots.

It is in fact, our slogan within Correctional Services. Am I proud of what I am doing; of my work and my workplace? and do I do my work with humility?

Let me give you two simple examples that appeared in the media this week. In one article, an editorial stated the following: ...."We are not very impressed with the Department of Correctional Services. Given the shocking state of prison administration and the fact that people keep escaping from these institutions, we would have thought that the department's staff would have more than enough worthwhile tasks to perform."

In the other article, it referred to the fire at Pollsmoor and accused us of wanting to control the flow of information and of acting high-handedly.

Now these are perceptions out there. It is not necessarily the truth but this is what people think of us. Dit behoort ons te onstel. It should disturb us. While it might not be referring to anyone specific of us here this morning, it does refer to the Department. In other words, all of us are tarred with the same brush. It conveys negativity. It speaks of a lack of pride. It speaks of manipulation. Again, it is very wrong, I agree, but the perception is there and it is strong.

How do we, as management deal with such perceptions? And if it is fact, how do we as management, deal with it?

As managers, I am asking you to consider such matters. Personal pride is important in our lives. It has to do with self-respect, respect for others and how others respect us. You might not even be happy in your job. You might disagree with your superiors. You might say to yourself that you do not care a damn. But what does that do to your self-respect? Does such an attitude not demonstrate a low self-esteem? Does it not make you a horrible person? Think about it. Think about how you inter-act with others. Think about how you perform in the workplace and think if your complaints are always justified. Measure your daily work performance against that what is expected of you; that what your job description states.

Ask yourself into which category do you fit as a manager. Am I scared to take decisions? Am I allowing myself to be manipulated simply because I want to be popular with others? Do I also sign the register and then disappear from my workplace? Do I cut my Fridays short? Do I still check on whether those delegated certain duties such as gate duty, do the searches expected of them? Do I search my colleagues when they enter security and restricted sections or do I leave it and in this way, miss it when attempts are made to, for example, smuggle weapons or contraband to inmates?

These things happen. I know it. Do not let us be blind to it.

The matter of humility is then also paramount. Am I humble in the execution of my duties as a manager without usurping my responsibilities? Do I treat my colleagues with respect and the inmates with dignity?

Ek weet daar is tye wanneer jy hard moet optree. Ek besef dat gevangenes jou menslikheid sal wil uitbuit. Dis maar natuurlik dat hulle kanse sal waag. But there is also the matter of humaneness. Get the balance. It is important for you as a person so that you do not experience continuous frustrations and dissatisfactions.

I will be visiting you again in the near future when I will spend more time with members. This is merely an opportunity to meet you. I want to appeal to you to make this institution and the others that you manage well-known for the quality of work that you deliver. Show pride in what you do and humility in what you achieve.

For that matter, I passed a building site the other day and I saw a board proudly displayed: It included things such as: Number of days without an accident.

Would it not be a challenge if we have similar reminders dealing with matters such as escapes, industrial action and even the uncovery of corruption?

I am putting this on the table and look forward to our next engagement, where we would be able to expand on the issues that affect us as proud correctional officials.

I thank you.

Issued by: Ministry of Correctional Services
27 August 2004


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