Act proposed for awaiting trial prisoners
Johannesburg - A proposed act for awaiting trial prisoners will "restore dignity" to them, the correctional services department said on Wednesday.
"Remand detention has for a long time been the stepchild of the department [because] there was no clear policy... and this has resulted in a situation where the needs of remand detainees were not on the forefront of developments," Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said in a speech prepared for delivery at Wits University.
She said previous policies did not distinguish between remand detention and normal prison sentences.
The Remand Detention and Correctional Matters Amendment Act of 2011 proposes that first-time offenders be placed in separate holding areas, and that remand detainees wear different uniforms from sentenced offenders.
Limited jail time
Mapisa-Nqakula said the act would also limit the time detainees had to spend in jail while awaiting trial.
"The current position in law provided that police could detain remand detainees for up to 30 days."
According to the amendment act detainees may not spend more than seven days in police custody, whatever the reason.
It also proposes that a suspect awaiting trial could not be detained in a correctional facility for more than two years.
"As of this week I have tabled in Parliament regulations drafted to give effect to the provisions of the act.
"Once these regulations have been approved... the bulk of the sections of the act will be promulgated," Mapisa-Nqakula said.