SOUTHERN CAPE NEWS - While at least 19 000 prisoners inside South African prisons will be eligible for special parole during lockdown, the Department of Correctional Services has not yet confirmed how many would be released from each facility.
However, George Herald managed to get information from a reliable source, who said at least 484 prisoners will be released on parole from facilities in the Southern Cape.
Of these parolees 193 are from George, 99 from Mossel Bay, 27 from Uniondale, 21 from Knysna, 20 from Ladismith (Kannaland) and 88 men and 36 women will be released from Oudtshoorn. Before release they will all be screened and all their details will be given to the relevant police stations.
According to a spokesperson of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Singabakho Nxumalo, they are still busy with internal processes and the release date has not been confirmed. He said sentenced offenders who qualify will be released as soon as all the parole board processes have been finalised and all relevant rehabilitation and pre-release programmes have been attended.
"We are not at a stage where it is determined that a particular centre will be releasing a certain number. Parole placement is aimed at addressing health and hygienic challenges within overcrowded South African correctional facilities. With the total inmate population of 156 000, an outbreak in DCS facilities would be catastrophic. Some of the correctional facilities are more than 100% overpopulated and, as a consequence, it will be difficult to address, manage and prevent the spread of Covid-19 within them," he said earlier this week. On Tuesday 26 May the National Department of Correctional Services recorded a total of 732 confirmed Covid-19 cases, of which 256 were officials and 476 inmates. George DCS also recorded their first Covid-19 case this week when one of their officials tested positive for the virus on Monday 25 May.
Who will be considered?
According to Nxumalo, elected low-risk offenders who have passed their minimum detention period will be considered by parole boards. "Reduction in population [inside prisons] will create an enabling environment for DCS to confront Covid-19 and further scale up resources required for effective implementation of the Disaster Management Response Strategy. Victims will also be afforded an opportunity to make representations during the parole consideration process and participation of families, communities and other stakeholders will assist with the mitigation of risk."
Who will be excluded?
- Prisoners serving life sentences;
- Prisoners guilty of serious crimes like sexual offences, murder or attempted murder, sedition, high treason, sabotage and terrorism, gender-based violence and child abuse;
- Offenders declared dangerous by the court;
- Offenders certified as mentally ill and detained in accordance with the Mental Health Care Act;
- Offenders with further charges where bail was not fixed, or fixed but not paid;
- Prisoners who have escaped or absconded and are still at large on the date of the announcement;
- Prisoners who are out on bail pending appeal on the date of the announcement;
- Violations under the Domestic Violence Act;
- Armed robbery / robbery with aggravating circumstances;
- Any other crime directly linked to any of the abovementioned crimes (i.e. house breaking with the intent to steal and rape);
- Any attempt, inciting, soliciting or conspiracy to commit any of the above crimes.
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