9 'lifers' granted parole
Johannesburg - Nine prisoners serving life sentences have been granted parole, the correctional services ministry said on Wednesday.
They include Almond Nofomela, whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after he exposed apartheid hit squads. The names of the others have not yet been released.
Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula made the decision after considering National Council on Correctional Services (NCSS) recommendations about the placement of 18 lifers who had served at least 20 years in jail, her ministry said in a statement.
The 18 were among 57 prisoners who had served 20 years of their life sentences and were eligible for parole, it said.
Nofomela's parole was "subject to certain conditions", the ministry said, but did not elaborate.
On August 21, NCSS council chairperson Judge Siraj Desai recommended that the conditions of Nofomela's parole include referral for psycho-social support to help him reintegrate into society, pre-release programmes and that he not be in possession of, or have access to firearms.
In granting the paroles, Mapisa-Nqakula said it had to be borne in mind that "such offenders are placed on parole for the duration of their natural lives and should they break their parole conditions they will again be detained".
Nofomela was sentenced to death in September 1987 for the murder of Johannes Lourens on his farm near Brits.
The day before his scheduled execution, he confessed to being part of a hit squad that murdered eight operatives of the then-banned ANC. Among those murdered was human rights lawyer Griffiths Mxenge.
Nofomela was granted amnesty for these murders, but still had to serve a life sentence for Lourens's murder.
In "exercising her discretion" to grant parole to the nine lifers, Mapisa-Nqakula took into account the protection of the community, the risk of re-offending and the likelihood of successful reintegration of the offender into the community, the ministry said.
She said her decision was informed by case management committees and the correctional supervision and parole boards. She also called on communities to take part in the processes of parole boards.
"Victim participation is an essential part of the restorative justice process, which informs the policies of the department of correctional services," she said.
"Communities also need to facilitate offender reintegration into society to help us break the cycle of crime and reduce re-offending in our society."