Ramaphosa grants special remission of sentences for some prisoners to mark Reconciliation Day

2019-12-16 15:49
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the Bergville Sports Complex in KZN. (Presidency via Twitter)

President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the Bergville Sports Complex in KZN. (Presidency via Twitter)

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Some SA prisoners will receive special reduced prison sentences as the country celebrates 25 years of democracy, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday.

Speaking at the Day of Reconciliation Celebrations in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal, he said the move was part of "established international practice" and would grant special remission of sentence to sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees.

"Remissions of sentences are always carefully considered, taking into account the interests of the public and the administration of justice."

Ramaphosa said that while remissions of sentencing traditionally marked special days in SA history, government still recognised that "incarceration has followed a judicial process and that sentences have been duly imposed after conviction".

Previously remissions were made on former President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration on May 10, 1994, the first anniversary of our freedom on April 27, 1995, Madiba’s 80th birthday on 18 July 1998, the first year of President Mbeki’s second term of office on May 30, 2005 and in celebration of 18 years of freedom on April 27, 2012.

"The process will be done in various phases, starting with special categories, including women, children, the elderly, youth and inmates with disabilities," Ramaphosa said.

He added that the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services would provide the relevant details and specific circumstances with regard to relevant offenders.

"It must be emphasised that this remission excludes those sentenced for violent, aggressive and sexual offences, as well as people declared dangerous criminals in terms of section 286A of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977."

According to Lamola, who made the announcement later on Monday in Pretoria, 14 647 inmates were eligible for special remissions.

Accelerating land reform

Ramaphosa said it was governments priority to accelerate the process of land reform through decisions of Parliament and recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform.

"At the same time we will continue with the restitution process, and with freeing up state-owned land for farming and for the building of houses for our people."

He called on private landowners, commercial farmers and the private sector "to take proactive steps to accelerate the land reform process by supporting farmworkers and communities to acquire land and to farm it".

"Reconciliation requires that we end inequality in all its forms, not only in access to land, but in access to water, education and skills, to employment, to housing, to healthcare and to basic services."

Ramaphosa said it was important to recall how, after enduring dispossession and racism and poverty, "African people actively resisted attempts to turn them into aliens in the land of their birth, keeping up sustained, active and organised resistance".

"We should recall how African, coloured and Indian South Africans, together with white democrats, fought a brave and protracted struggle for freedom."

Gender equality

Ramaphosa also called for the empowerment of women and the achievement of gender equity.

"Reconciliation means that we need work with greater effort and urgency to end the scourge of gender-based violence. We cannot be a strong nation if we continue to abuse women and children and are intolerant towards members of the LGBTQI+ community."

He said respect for women had to be taught to boys and young men.

Read more on:    cyril rama­phosa

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