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‘What happens if there is a fire and prisoners die?’

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Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services has resolved to summon the department of public works and infrastructure (DPWI) to parliament after site visits to government facilities.

MPs heard accounts of alleged failure to maintain courts and prisons in Mpumalanga.

The committee this week visited the Barberton Correctional Centre and community corrections facilities and two court buildings.

At the prisons facilities the committee heard complaints about a lack of maintenance, including fire extinguishers that have been allowed to expire or have not been serviced.

Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe said: “What will happen if there is a fire and prisoners die here? What is going to be the perception about SA?

“We are going to be hard on DPWI. We will invite the director-general to explain why there are complaints about court buildings and prisons while there are people employed every day.”

The committee said the department committed to address some of the challenges using emergency interventions, which often require deviations from normal procurement processes.

Because there are no long-term maintenance plans, ad hoc work is done which often requires emergency procurement. However, MPs questioned the financial implications of the ongoing use of emergency interventions.

“So the tendency is to throw money at every problem instead of looking at our own capacity? The financial challenges of the country are being complicated by us not being innovative. It is not fair for South Africans to sustain negligence and laziness,” said Magwanishe.

Source: TimesLIVE

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