NATIONAL NEWS & VIDEO - This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to give parole to some offenders in order to ease overcrowding in prisons as a result of Covid-19.
Manager of corrections at Leeuwkop prison Surprise Mthethwa said that Ramaphosa was allowed to make this decision in terms of Section 82 of the Correctional Services Act.
“This is not a reduction of sentence. Only offenders who commit economic crimes such as fraud, petty theft, housebreaking and other low-risk crimes were eligible to qualify for parole. Offenders committing violent crimes including gender-based violence, assault, rape, business robberies etc. will not be eligible,” said Mthethwa.
Leeuwkop began releasing qualifying offenders from 20 May, with 86 people being released thus far. “Offenders will need confirmation of address and family support in order to qualify for release,” he added.
Acting area coordinator of corrections Colet Sello said that offenders on parole will need to report to community corrections offices regularly.
Mthethwa said that police have taken DNA samples of all offenders to be released on parole so that if they commit crimes outside, they can be tracked.
Mthethwa added that all inmates scheduled for parole will be isolated for a period of 14 days and screened before they are released. Once released, they will need to undergo a further 14 days of house detention, where monitoring officials will check their compliance. This is in order to ensure that released offenders do not spread Covid-19.
Mthethwa explained that the aim is for offenders to reintegrate back into the community where they committed the crimes. Victims of crimes have also been invited to form part of the parole boards which decide whether the offender is fit for release.
Sello emphasised that there needs to be integration between the offender and the community. He concluded,
“The community needs to forgive the offender for committing the crime, or else it will become very difficult for them to integrate. We need to see communities providing support systems for offenders and not stigmatising them.”
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