Invest in prisons to fight crime - Moyane

Pretoria - Unless there is better investment in prisons, all efforts to fight crime and strengthen the criminal justice system will fail, Correctional Services Commissioner Tom Moyane said on Sunday.

"Prison systems across the continent face high levels of overcrowding, prevalence of HIV and AIDS, archaic prison infrastructure, sluggish management of awaiting trial systems which contribute in building instead of reducing high rates of overcrowding," Moyane said in a statement to mark the second anniversary of the establishment of the African Correctional Services Association (ACSA), an all Africa corrections body formed in Zambia in 2008.

Moyane, who was elected Secretary of ACSA earlier this month, cautioned that the failure of the criminal justice system may risk prisons becoming "a big revolving door for more and more hardened criminals that continue to terrorise the people".

"Calls for families, communities and stakeholders to treat corrections as a societal responsibility must be buoyed by governments allocating better budgets to improve prison conditions and stop treating these institutions as appendages of Justice and Police Departments", he said.

The history of prisons on the continent was characterised by a series of major and common challenges that are partly evidence of being an "afterthought" in societal designs, reconstruction and development he said.

"It is now that corrections must not be left out of growing momentum for the development and democratisation of Continent under the auspices of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa Development if (the challenges) are to be history".

Moyane acknowledged that more and more pockets of excellence were emerging in the continent and called for the establishment of learning networks in order to share best practices that have proved successful in many countries.

ACSA's strategic plans in the next five years would include the strengthening of governance frameworks, technical assistance, external and legal affairs with a view to building the capacity of Member Countries to effectively execute their mandates. -BuaNews