Parole boards to be overhauled - Masutha

2015-07-03 21:26
Minister Michael Masutha.

Minister Michael Masutha. (Lisa Hnatowicz/Foto24)

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Johannesburg – The country’s parole boards will be overhauled to make them more professional and independent, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said on Friday.

This would ensure victims' rights were considered and criminals did not languish in jail when they could be making a contribution to society, he said at Leeuwkop Prison in Johannesburg.

He was addressing the chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of the country’s 53 parole boards.

“How can we say we are a just society by only considering the rights of offenders and have absolute disregard for victims? We cannot consider the parole application of any offender which does not show the victims were consulted.”

He questioned the efficiency of the correctional services department’s rehabilitation programmes if there were people still in jail after 20 years, when they should have been out on parole.

“There are numerous inmates who should have long been on parole, but still remain incarcerated due to our own administrative inefficiencies.”

The task team responsible for the review would look at having a separate Parole Act, legislating timelines on parole consideration periods, victim participation, hearing procedures and parole conditions.

While the review was underway, parole board officials would get 12-month contracts to replace their month-to-month ones.

Perhaps the most controversial parole decision in recent times is that of convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik. President Jacob Zuma's former financial adviser was released on medical parole on March 3 2009 after having served just over two years of his 15-year jail sentence.

He was believed to have had only a short time left to live. More than six years later, he is still alive - suffering from chronic hypertension, playing golf and insulting journalists.

Apartheid-era killer Eugene de Kock was denied parole in July last year, despite being eligible after spending 20 years behind bars. He was granted it in January this year.

In January Masutha denied South African Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani’s killer Clive Derby-Lewis medical parole. The terminally ill 79-year-old then turned to the High Court in Pretoria, which granted him medical parole. Judge Selby Baqwa said everyone had the right to die with dignity. 

Read more on:    michael masutha  |  johannesburg  |  prisons

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