Zuma announces remission of sentences

2012-04-27 13:49

President Jacob Zuma has announced special remission of sentence for prisoners and parolees, the fifth such announcement by a democratically elected president.

Zuma made the announcement while addressing scores of people at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, among them Malawi president Joyce Banda.

Earlier in the day the carnival atmosphere that had seen bikers, drum majorettes, performing artists and musicians entertain the crowd was briefly disrupted by a small group chanting anti-Zuma songs, “Zuma where is Malema”, in reference to former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema whose expulsion from the party was confirmed this week.

It is the first time that Zuma’s administration has granted remission of sentence to prisoners, following former President Nelson Mandela’s similar decisions in 1994, 1995 and 1998, while Zuma’s predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, granted remission in 2005.

“The categories and the lengths of reduction will be based on the decision of Cabinet in relation to the previous special remission of 2005,” said Zuma.

Categories will include:

» A 6-month blanket special remission of sentence to all sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees.

» 12-month special remission of sentence for all sentenced inmates, probationers and parolees excluding sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees who have been sentenced for aggressive, sexual, firearm and drug related offences.

Ministers in the justice, corrections, police and security cluster will announce details on the remission tomorrow in Pretoria.

Zuma said the struggle for the emancipation of South Africa was fought over three centuries, tracing the battle for liberation to the days of white settlers.

He said fighting crime was among the five priorities that were getting special attention from government.

He said the fears of those who had been apprehensive about the country’s democracy in 1994 were dashed by government’s policy of reconciliation.

“For those who believed in, and practised racism, April 27 1994 freed them from the fear of a black majority that could rise against them at any time.

“It freed them from vengeance, as the democratic state immediately instituted reconciliation as a policy of government to heal the divisions and pain of the past,” said Zuma.

This year’s celebrations marked 18 years since all South Africans, regardless of race, voted in the country’s first democratic elections on April 27 1994.

Leaders of opposition political parties also praised South Africa’s strides after 1994, but warned that a lot still needed to be done to root out inequality, crime, corruption, greed and poverty.

Pan Africanist Congress leader Letlapa Mphahlele said the freedom enjoyed today was at risk of being eroded by greed and corruption.

Various musicians performed after Zuma’s speech with thousands of revellers staying behind to celebrate.

Zuma will award national orders to various prominent South Africans and foreign nationals later tonight during a ceremony at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

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