Parliamentary question: Correctional Services stun belts


Mr J Selfe (DA) to ask the Minister of Correctional Services:
(1) Whether officials of her department use stun belts to control the movement of persons; if so, why is this still being used;

(2) whether her department has (a) followed up on and (b) given effect to the recommendations of the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Centres (JICC); if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(1) Yes. Electronically activated high security stun transport belts can according to the Correctional Services Act, Act 111 of 1998, as amended (25/2008), Section 33, be used in Correctional Centres. These belts may only be used by correctional officials, specifically trained in the use thereof, on authority of the Head of the Correctional Centre. These belts are only used on high risk / dangerous inmates when outside cells and during transfer / escorting. When used on an inmate, the inmate must be under the direct and immediate supervision of the correctional official in possession of the activating device.

Whenever the belt has been activated, the incident must be reported to the Head of the Correctional Centre and where necessary, the inmate must receive medical attention as soon as possible. These belts remain an effective method of ensuring that dangerous and high risk inmates are moved safely when inside and/or outside the confines of Correctional Centres. The belts are safe for use as it complies to the requirements of the South African Bureau of Standards.
(2) Unnatural Deaths / Homicides / Suicides / Criminal investigations:

The Judicial Inspectorate recommended that officials performing patrol duties should be fully conversant with each vulnerable inmate’s history and be properly trained in and briefed on the techniques of monitoring the health and foreseeable conduct of such an inmate. The training of officials working with inmates in the techniques of monitoring the health and conduct of such inmates has been included in the training curriculum for this Department’s officials.

The Judicial Inspectorate further recommended that the Department should set up a liaison committee with the relevant role-players, namely the South African Police, the medico-legal divisions of the Department of Health, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, with a dedicated focus to determine why custodial deaths do not receive the required attention. Such liaison committee has not been set up yet but will be considered for inclusion in the integrated crime prevention strategies of the JCPS Cluster Departments.