The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:16 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Correctional Services questions about deaths in custody.
The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: In the Coroner's findings for the 2013 inquest into the death of Mr Mark William Payne in custody, the Coroner Mr Mark Johns, in his remarks about the Department for Correctional Services investigation prior to the commencement of the coronial inquest, stated:
Certainly , no proper explanation was available at the commencement of the I nquest and i t is quite plain that the D epartment … had not made a concerted effort to obtain an answer prior to the commencement of the I nquest. It is particularly concerning that the D epartment would not have done so as soon as possible after Mr Payne's death , and certainly no later than the commencement of the I nquest. In fact, it would seem that the first time a serious effort was made to arrive at an explanation was when the I nquest had started and the C ourt demanded a proper explanation.
The opposition has been advised that the departmental investigation the Coroner referred to was some six to seven months after the commencement of the inquest. Given this, my questions to the minister are:
1.Will the minister direct the Department for Correctional Services to actively assist the SAPOL investigation into the recent death of the inmate in DCS custody?
2.Will the department be directed to prepare for the Coroner's inquest?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 15:18 ): To answer your questions, I have directly communicated to the chief executive of the department of corrections that it is my expectation that the Department for Correctional Services cooperate fully with SAPOL in the conduct of its investigations. I have been advised that that is occurring. I have spoken to the police commissioner himself who indicated to me that the department is cooperating with the police investigation, as we would reasonably expect to be the case.
There has not been any evidence to suggest to me that anyone has anything to hide and I would expect that the Department for Correctional Services is fully cooperating with SAPOL major crime, which is overseeing this investigation. Of course, SAPOL major crime, as members opposite would well know, represents some of the finest men and women to work within SAPOL. They are an elite investigative unit. I have to say that gives me an awful amount of confidence that we will be able to find out exactly what did transpire during the course of events that occurred last Friday.
Regarding the coronial inquest, which I believe was the second part of your question, the Hon. Mr Dawkins, it is my expectation that the same principle applies and that the Department for Correctional Services complies with all of the requests and demands that are made by the Coroner during the course of the inquest.
I am advised that immediately post the gentleman's passing away in the early hours of Monday morning, the Department for Correctional Services submitted, very quickly, the paperwork—in fact, I am advised it was done before 6am on Monday—that the death had taken place, and that would necessitate the process commencing with the Coroner. I am of the understanding that the department will work with the Coroner in due course to make sure that his inquiries and investigations are able to be facilitated so he, too, can make a contribution to finding out exactly what it is that took place last Friday.