Feedback on early prison releases

2020-02-11 06:01
Area commissioner of Pollsmoor, Ntobeko Mketshane, addresses the community at the Andile Msizi Hall, Khayelitsha, on Thursday 30 January.

Area commissioner of Pollsmoor, Ntobeko Mketshane, addresses the community at the Andile Msizi Hall, Khayelitsha, on Thursday 30 January.

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Since President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a special remission of inmates’ sentences made on 16 December last year, one offender was released by mistake and six parolees again committed crimes.

Area commissioner of Pollsmoor, Ntobeko Mketshane, engaged with stakeholders and communities at the Andile Msizi Hall, Khayelitsha, on Thursday 30 January to provide an update on the process and to share challenges experienced.

Special remission of sentence for specific categories of offenders, those out on probation and those on parole started on Friday 27 December, last year. Some offenders had their sentences drastically reduced.

The number of sentenced offenders released up to Tuesday 28 January stands at 814 from Pollsmoor Correctional Centres and 1 118 from community corrections offices in Cape Town and Mitchell’s Plain.

Of these, one female offender was released by mistake.

She, along with six parolees who committed offences after their release, are back at Pollsmoor, Mketshane said.

He said there were three conditions under which inmates could be released from correctional centres – on completion of his or her sentence; when an inmate qualifies for parole but remains under the supervision of community corrections; or a remission of sentence as instructed by the president.

“This is when the president uses the powers vested in him by the Constitution and the Correctional Services Act to grant remissions which cuts sentences short. It also fast tracks the dates on which an inmate could be placed on parole, subject to meeting a set of criteria,” explained Mketshane.

Inmates jailed for sexual offences and violent crimes (which include child abuse) are excluded from the president’s instruction.

Mketshane said the department of correctional services was deeply concerned about the gender violence crimes committed by parolees and ex-offenders.

He referred to the alleged murder and rape of Michaela Williams, a 12-year-old girl from Grassy Park in January this year by a parolee released in 2017, and the murder and rape of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, 19, by a former offender in August last year.

“We have revoked the parole of the parolee. Luyanda Botha who was convicted for the murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana is serving life imprisonment in our facility,” he said. Mketshane asked for communities’ support in the rehabilitation of prisoners.

“Offenders released experience some form of rejection, stigmatisation and lack of family support system by the community. We expect the community to welcome offenders back in your homes, churches and communities. We kindly request a soft landing for these offenders in your streets,” he said.

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