Correctional Officer and Probation Officer

The officer in the Department of Correctional Services ensures the safe custody of prisoners as commanded by a court of law from the date of imprisonment until such a person is released.

Probation officers are social workers / court officers employed by the Probation Service to supervise offenders and released prisoners in the community and to help them lead law-abiding lives.

The correctional officer is concerned with:

  • the safe custody of the prisoners in his care
  • the training and treatment of prisoners during their imprisonment
  • preparation of the prisoners for their release and integration into the community
  • relevant administrative work

They need to conduct head counts to ensure that each prisoner is present, monitor the conduct of prisoners in their housing unit, or during work or recreational activities, according to established policies, regulations and procedures, to prevent escape or violence. They inspect the conditions of locks, window bars, grills, doors and gates to ensure security.  They record information, such as prisoner identification, charges and incidences of inmate disturbance, keeping daily logs of prisoner activities.  They search prisoners and vehicles and conduct shakedowns of cells for valuables and contraband, such as weapons or drugs.  It may be necessary to settle disputes between inmates and use weapons, handcuffs and physical force to maintain discipline and order among prisoners, and to search for and recapture escapees. They participate in the required job training, supervise and coordinate the work of o ther correctional service officers and conduct fire, safety and sanitation inspections.  They serve meals and dispense prescribed medication to prisoners, take prisoners into custody and escort them to locations within and outside the facility, such as the visiting room, courtroom or airport.

They provide to supervisors oral and written reports of the quality and quantity of work performed by inmates, inmate disturbances and rule violations, and unusual occurrences.

The officer performs these duties in a prison, an administrative office, a workshop, a prison hospital or on prison farms.

Parole officers work with offenders or ex-offenders who have emotional, behavioural or psychological problems, which can make the job stressful and demanding. However, helping people better themselves can be a particularly rewarding role.

Responsibilities of the job include providing advice and information about offenders to assist with court sentencing, writing / presenting pre-sentence and pre-release reports, helping offenders come to terms with custodial sentences, undertaking one-to-one and group work activities, organising and overseeing community service work, ‘befriending' and counselling offenders and their families, supervising junior staff, helping with the rehabilitation of ex-offenders into the community, visiting offenders at home, in court, prison, hostels or other penal institutions, supporting the victims of some violent or sexual crimes and liaising with the police, social services and other authorities.

Important skills are 

  • The ability to cope with stressful situations
  • Responsibility
  • Assertiveness
  • An open mind
  • Maturity
  • Integrity
  • Team skills
  • Administrative
  • Oral/written communication skills

Personal Requirements

A correctional officer should:

  • be a South African citizen
  • be 18 - 35 years of age
  • be a minimum of 1,67 m tall for men and 1,60 m for women
  • have no mental or physical handicap
  • be medically fit
  • speak English and at least one other language
  • be emotionally mature and stable
  • be responsible and honest
  • be patient and have perseverance
  • give and take orders
  • make appropriate decisions quickly
  • work well under stress
  • have the desire to work with and help others
  • be willing to work anywhere in the Republic

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Grade 10 Certificate.
Preference is given to applicants with a Senior Certificate.

What to Study

Basic training: is offered at the Department of Correctional Services’ two training colleges at Kroonstad and Zonderwater near Cullinan. After successful completion of the course, members are transferred to the various prisons in the country according to departmental needs and personal preference.

Career development: In-service training is offered to members and they are also encouraged to improve their qualifications in accordance with the Department’s needs. In order to assist personnel in this regard, interest-free loans and study leave are available. Study bursaries are also awarded annually for part-time and full-time study in the following fields:

Part-time study: BTech and N.Dip. Correctional Services Management - UNISA.
An N.Dip. in Policing is offered at VUT, BTech and MTech at UNISA

Full-time study: BA in Correctional Services Management at UZ. Other useful qualifications at various universities: BPharm, BSc (Computer Science), BA Social Work, and Masters degree in Psychology, Diploma in Nursing, N.Dip. Agriculture and N.Dip. Food Service Management.


  • different prison commands throughout South Africa.

Further Information

Department of Correctional Services
124 WF Nkomo Street (Corner WF Nkomo & Sophie De Bruyn Streets)
Poyntons Building (West Block)
Pretoria 0001
Tel: (012) 307-2998/9

Programmes by Study Institutions

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