QUESTION NO 69
Mr M J R de Villiers (DA-WC) to ask the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities:
(1) What (a) is the total number of mothers with children in prisons in the country and b) are the details of a programme and/or policy her department follows to ensure that the prison environment is (i) comfortable for mothers and their children and (ii) a place for learning and development;
(2) Whether her department intends to relocate mothers with children in prisons to places of safety with less character of a prison environment in terms of a formulated plan; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
(1) (a) Following the records and statistics from the Department of Correctional Services, as at 17 August 2010, the figure of 127 was the total number recorded of mothers with babies in Correctional facilities across the country.
(b) The Department has a policy in place for Infants and Mothers, which ensures that infants and their mothers are cared for in a manner that promotes their best interest regarding the babies’ care, upbringing, and protected comfortable environment for mothers to raise and grow their babies until they reach the full normal development as kids. However, let me also extend an invitation to Honourable members of the NCOP to join hands with our Department and that of Correctional Services, to build on the work already done in this regard, to foster more working relationships and enhance the good efforts made, so that we may do more in alleviating the plight faced by these two groups of vulnerable people.
The Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities has the Mother and Child Units, specially designated to accommodate mothers with their children in Correctional facilities.
The Correctional Services Act makes provision for mothers in incarceration to be with their babies from birth until the age of two (2) years. These babies are afforded an opportunity to attend internal crèches within the Correctional Services facilities where they receive stimulation and developmental programmes.
(2) The Department of Correctional Services has launched the Imbeleko initiative in all the six (6) Regions. Imbeleko is an initiative for the treatment and management of babies initiated by the former Deputy Minister, Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize with an explicit objective of ensuring that babies in Correctional facilities have access to social, psychological, health and developmental services and programmes relevant to their developmental age. The initiative has a two – pronged strategy, namely:
To harmonize the services and programmes including infrastructure within the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) facilities to ensure the creation of a humane, safe and child – friendly environment for the mother-child interaction within Correctional facilities; and
To seek suitable alternative care for the placement of babies with families, foster care and adoptive parents. This is done in partnership with the Department of Social Development who has to screen and facilitate foster care placement.