Parliamentary Question: Prisons



Mr Selfe (DA) to ask the Minister of Correctional Services:

(a)What is the breakdown of the liability amount of R988 million as a result of bodily injury or assault reflected on page 148 of the 2008-09 annual report with reference to (i) claimants, (ii) amount claimed by claimants and (iii) the status of each case in the legal process, and
(b)What measures have been instituted to recoup losses suffered by her department as a result of acts committed or omitted by officials when such an official was liable in law?


(a)Of the R988 million contingent liabilities for the 2008/09 financial year, R82 million is the total carry over claims from the previous financial year and R906 million constituted essentially by one outrageous claim of R900 million which has not been taken beyond a letter of demand. It should be noted that the claimant has neither taken the matter further to court, nor appoint an attorney, nor submit proof of the amount claimed. The claim is denied by the Department of Correctional Services and the onus in law is on the claimant to prove his claim.
(i)Overall against the Department continued to decrease over the past three financial years from 261 in 2006/7, to 210 in 2007/8 and 175 in 2008/9 financial year, while also in particular the claims for bodily injury or assaults declined from 113 cases 2007/8 to 29 cases 2008/9 financial year. In short claims for bodily injuries or assaults declined by nearly 400%.
(ii)Contrary to these positive emerging trends in quantities of claims against the Department, the quantum amounts claimed show rocketing figures that are a distortion caused by the outrageous claim mentioned above, with no prospects of any success.
(iii)Some cases were concluded incurring paid liabilities of R239 917-00 during the financial year, which included other claims that were settled such as for;

R15 000-00

R60 000-00

R50 000-00

R45 000-00

These cases constituted half or less of the amounts claimed. The rest of the cases are pending as they are not approved/ settled, including the one answered above; which was reported
(b) The Department of Correctional Services has stepped up its investigations, conviction rates and sanctions against officials that acted outside of the law with overall conviction rates in excess of 86%, many of which resulted in dismissals. The DCS has also adopted a policy to claim from officials who forfeited state cover in all civil claims instituted against it. There are some pending cases where this is done. Together these actions are contributing in reducing incidents of assault or bodily injuries that resulted in claims against the Department. We are doing all we can to sustain the current trends of declines in claims against the department.