2080 In prison over two years awaiting trial

2010-11-03 14:46

Cape Town – A total of 2080 accused people have been sitting in prisons around the country for longer than two years, waiting for their trials to either start or finish, MPs heard today.

Of these so-called remand detainees, 488 have been in jail for between three to five years, 73 between five and seven years, and three for longer than seven years.

Briefing Parliament’s correctional services portfolio committee, justice department advocate Pieter du Rand said there were a total 47 414 prisoners in jails awaiting-trial on August 17 this year.

Although this total was less than in August 2009, when the total number of remand detainees was 45 861, the number of those held for longer than 24 months had shown a “gradual increase”.

The committee heard court delays were caused by a “multitude of factors”, among others, missing dockets and charge sheets; missing witnesses; the quality of the case investigation, or a need for further investigation; and the accused not arriving in court from prison.

Updating members on the refurbishment of dedicated remand detention facilities (RDFs), du Rand said the total cost for updating 11 identified centres would be R4 billion.

Three RDFs had been prioritised – in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Potchefstroom – and project “timelines” were being negotiated with the public works department.

According to figures presented at the briefing, more than half of the 2080 remand detainees who have been incarcerated for more than two years are being held in Gauteng prisons.

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