Government is planning to build five new prisons in a public/private partnership as part of its plans to step up the fight against crime, according to the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) released by finance minister Trevor Manuel in Parliament on Tuesday.
The five prisons, in Paarl, East London, Port Shepstone, Nigel and Klerksdorp, will cost between 800 and 900 million rand each, and will each house around 3,000 prisoners.
According to Taz Chaponda, who oversees public/private partnerships at the Treasury, the facilities will be built as maximum-security jails, but will also be able to house medium-security prisoners as well.
Public/private jails got something of a bad reputation after the first two were built five years ago. Their critics described them as over-specified, in that they were too refined and too comfortable, and the contracts prevented a single extra prisoner being housed over the budgeted number.
This however will change in the new prisons. The private sector company will still design, build and operate the prisons, but they will be financed jointly by the state, which will give the authorities greater leverage. By Michael Hamlyn, I-Net Bridge
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