State fast-tracks parole of political prisoners

2015-05-22 13:32
Minister Michael Masutha.

Minister Michael Masutha. (Lisa Hnatowicz/Foto24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Twenty-one years on, the government is fast-tracking parole of political prisoners who are still languishing in jail for crimes committed in the course of political activity before the emergence of the democratic dispensation. 

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha revealed this week that he had instructed all the correctional regions to fast-track the parole process for qualifying parole candidates by taking them through all the programmes that are a pre-condition for people to qualify for parole.

“That’s because we don’t just grant parole, we grant parole on people who have been through programmes and have been assessed to qualify for parole.”

The department wants to make sure that those political detainees who deserve to be on parole under normal parole procedures are considered for parole, instead of waiting for the presidential pardons process.

Masutha said this development followed from a political understanding reached in 2007, when a multiparty reference group was formed under the then president Thabo Mbeki.

It had to advise the president on who should receive pardons because of their past political activities, people who committed crimes in the course of their political activity and who may not have benefited from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process.

Masutha said about 2000 applicants came forward of which only 149 were identified as qualifying by that multiparty reference group. The process was held back by numerous court challenges.

“We as corrections, [correctional services] took it upon ourselves to look into that list specifically and say how many of those are still in our correctional facilities and we came to a significantly lower number because some in the interim completed their sentences and others got parole in the normal cause.

“We then embarked on a process of fast-tracking finalisation of parole applications of those that are still in our correctional facilities as contributing in the interim while the issue of presidential pardons is still being resolved,” he added.

Masutha established a task team in November last year to “revitalise and conclude” on political prisoners.

This week he said the task team had taken stock of the scope of work, starting with the restorative justice elements of the programme, including victim and family consultations, as well as engaging non-governmental organisations and political parties. 

He said known applicants are those who have completed their sentences, those who have been placed on parole and those still incarcerated.

The Pan Africanist Congress has been campaigning for years for the release of its members who remain imprisoned.

Read more on:    michael masutha

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.