Correctional Services gets record unqualified audit

For the first time in democratic South Africa, the Department of Correctional Services has obtained an unqualified opinion on its 2015/16 financial statement from the Auditor General.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Advocate Michael Masutha, announced this during a briefing session of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services in Cape Town on Thursday.

Minister Masutha led a high powered delegation from his department to present the annual report of Correctional Services to the Portfolio Committee.

We welcome the Auditor General’s report and are encouraged by the improvements noted in the report. This serves as an indication that Correctional Services is on the right track towards achieving its strategic goals of ensuring credible financial control systems, Minister Masutha said.

The Minister made a commitment to work harder towards the attainment of a clean audit finding.

National Commissioner Zach Modise attributed the achievement of an unqualified audit opinion to strong political will, as well as various interventions to tighten internal controls and compliance.

Commissioner Modise said the deployment of all executive and senior managers of the department across the country to clean records and identify institutional gaps proved very helpful.

He said a strategy for accelerating the department’s turnaround strategy will be executed in order to address a number of concerns the Auditor General still has, which include invoice payments within the prescribed 30-day period, lawsuit related uncertainties, irregular and fruitless expenditure and performance information management.

During the year under review, the department ensured stability of top management with the permanent appointment of the National Commissioner, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Management and over 30 senior management service vacancies, which together reduced vacancies at this level from 25% to 18.6%.

In addition, vacancies in scarce and critical skills categories, were significantly reduced through a special recruitment campaign code named Operation Hira, which reduced, among others, vacancies among social workers from 17% to 9.9%, psychologists from 34% to 16% and educators from 25.5% to 15.3% in the 2015/16 financial year.

Minister Masutha extended a word of gratitude to the Portfolio Committee for its role in providing quality oversight over what he called the titanic portfolio of the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services with various departments and its entities.

Source: South African Government News Agency