Bail applicant gets ankle bracelet to monitor movements

2015-06-15 17:53

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Bloemfontein - Electronic monitoring for suspects on bail can help manage jail populations - and make life a bit fairer for those applying for bail.

This is the opinion of Bastiaan Theunissen, the legal eagle behind one of South Africa’s first people to wear such an ankle device as part of his bail conditions - and not while on parole.

Theunissen’s client, Ronnie Fakude, spent two years behind bars awaiting trial. The South African legal system makes provision that an awaiting-trial prisoner’s position regarding bail is reconsidered after two years, and when this happened to Fakude, Theunissen suggested that an electronic monitoring system be considered as part of his bail conditions.

Correctional Services was happy with the situation, and Fakude was released on bail.

Similar devices have been used in the USA and Australia for years, but they are still new in South Africa.

The Department of Correctional started an experiment by fitting 150 parolees with these ankle devices in 2012 and followed it up with 500 more the next year.

Last year they announced that they wanted to roll out these devices nationally – even as an alternative to traditional jail time.

The then correctional services minister, Sibusiso Ndebele, said that it cost the taxpayer roughly one third of the money to keep someone electronically monitored, compared to keeping someone in prison.

According to Theunissen, the system worked well for Fakude, who is a wheelchair user and battles with his health.

He had arrived at court when he had to, except for the times when health problems prevented him from doing so, and then he followed the correct procedures. Fakude is facing fraud charges.

“I can see this being used more often in future for people who apply for bail. It is an effective way to ensure that they arrive in court and limits flight risks,” he told News24.

There are various kinds of monitoring systems, but the general principle is that an electronic device is fitted to the ankle. The device is connected to a central monitoring room, where the movements of the parolee can be detected.

The device is tamper proof and when an attempt is made to remove it, the authorities are notified.      

News24 contacted the Department of Correctional Services for comment on Fakude’s case, but at time of publishing no reply was received.


Read more on:    correctional services  |  bloemfontein  |  crime

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