Zuma to remit jail sentences, move angers

2012-04-27 22:02
Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma announced on Friday that his administration would grant a special remission of sentence to specific categories of sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees.

He said there would be a six months' blanket special remission of sentence for all sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees.

An additional 12 months' special remission of sentence would be made for all sentenced inmates, probationers and parolees, excluding those sentenced for aggressive, sexual, firearm and drug-related offences.

The remission would also not apply to inmates who had been declared dangerous criminals.

It is the first special remission of sentences he has granted since taking office.

Zuma was speaking during at a Freedom Day celebration in Pretoria where said the remission was in keeping with the spirit of the celebration of the country's 18 years of freedom and in line with established international practice.

He said previous remissions had also been granted to coincide with key national days.

Slap in the face

There was a remission when former president Nelson Mandela was inaugurated on 10 May 10 1994; the first Freedom Day on 27 April 1995; Mandela's 80th birthday on 18 July 1998; and to mark the first year of former president Thabo Mbeki's second term in office on 30 May 2005.

Zuma said the ministers of the justice, crime prevention and security cluster would provide the details and specific circumstances of those who would benefit from the latest reduction.

He said the categories and lengths of remission were based on a Cabinet decision made in relation to the special remission of 2005.

The move angered the Democratic Alliance.

The remission of sentences announced by President Jacob Zuma on Freedom Day is a slap in the face for crime victims and their families, the DA said in a statement.

"In addition, it diminishes the deterrent effect of sentences," said DA correctional services spokesperson James Selfe.

Selfe said there was overcrowding in prisons and corrective measures were needed, but there were more imaginative ways the problem could be addressed.

Community-based sentencing would enable perpetrators to give back to the community, he said.

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