Children awaiting trial numbers decrease - department

2015-05-31 18:28
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Johannesburg - The number of children awaiting trial in South Africa's remand detention facilities has dropped by 74%, the correctional services department said on Sunday.

"In the 2013/14 financial year, 129 awaiting-trial children were held in the country’s remand detention facilities, down from 497 in 2009/10," spokesperson Manelisi Wolela said in a statement.

"The number of sentenced children also declined by 62.1% between 2009/10 and 2014/15 financial years, from 538 to 204."

Acting correctional services national commissioner Zach Modise said the reduction of children detained came thanks to close collaboration between various partners of the criminal justice system.

The correctional services department referred awaiting trial children to courts for consideration after every 14 days of detention to facilitate the conclusion of their cases, in line with the Child Justice Act.

Children are treated as a special category - one of the "vulnerable sectors among the country’s 159 563 inmates". They are kept separately from juveniles and adults, and receive special attention in respect of rehabilitation programmes, particularly education. 

"We will continue to promote the successful rehabilitation of children in conflict with the law, while also ensuring the implementation of the provisions of the Child Justice Act on handling of children who break the law," Modise said.

"We must also continue to raise awareness and mobilise all sectors and communities towards the holistic development, care and protection of our children. We must educate communities to put children first, in line with government’s commitment to build a South Africa that is fit for children."

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