Covid-19: These are the inmates who will not be eligible for special parole

Goodwood prison in Cape Town. (Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo Images)
Goodwood prison in Cape Town. (Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo Images)

While at least 19 000 inmates inside South Africa's prisons will be eligible for special parole to curb the spread of coronavirus, those sentenced for a range of serious crimes will not make the cut.

This as President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the release on parole of low-risk inmates to ease overcrowding and curb the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.

On Friday, Ramaphosa announced and gazetted the decision in terms of Section 84(2)(1) of the Constitution together with Section 82(1)(a) of the Correctional Services Act 1998. 

In Proclamation 19 of 2020 gazetted on 8 May, Ramaphosa outlined only select inmates would be eligible and only released after processes have been followed.

The criteria for those eligible is that they were or would have been incarcerated on 27 April and subject to conditions recommended by the Correctional Supervision and Parole Board under whose jurisdiction the sentenced offenders may fall in.  

In the proclamation, Ramaphosa outlined low-risk offenders who would be considered and those who had or would have reached their minimum detention periods within a period of 60 months from 8 May.

READ | Ramaphosa authorises release of low-risk inmates to combat spread of Covid-19 in prisons

They would also have been convicted for "petty crimes", which were elaborated on by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.

On Friday, correctional services department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said there were three new cases of the virus in SA's prison network, bringing the number in the department to 177.

Nxumalo added three officials have tested negative, with recoveries now standing at 87. 

Who is not eligible for special parole?

- Inmates serving life imprisonment for crimes related to gender-based violence and sexual offences; child abuse; murder, attempted sabotage and terrorism.

- Those declared dangerous in line with the Criminal Procedure Act, and those certified mentally ill and detained in line with the Mental Health Care Act.

- Offenders with further charges that have not received bail or could not pay it. 

- Inmates who escaped prison or absconded and were still at large as of the date of pronouncement.

- Inmates who are out on bail pending appeals. 

- Those who committed violations under the Domestic Violence Act.

- Those detained for armed robbery or robbery with aggravating circumstances.

- Any other crime linked the above mentioned crimes, for example, house breaking with intent to steal or rape.

- Any attempt, soliciting, inciting, or conspiracy to commit the above crimes.

ALSO READ | Covid-19 in prisons: Only inmates convicted of petty crimes will go free, says Lamola

In the proclamation, Ramaphosa said those qualifying for the special parole would, however, be subjected to their fingerprints and DNA samples being drawn and checked in line with police prerequisites permitting a release.

The placement process of those meeting the standards will start once the parole board processes have been concluded and release programmes attended by them.

'Petty crimes, crimes of need' 

Speaking at a briefing on Friday after Ramaphosa's announcement, Lamola and Correctional Services Commissioner Arthur Fraser said only those sentenced for petty crimes would be eligible for the special parole and would form part of the 19 000 being released across the country, News24 reported.

Fraser described these as "crimes of need", such as shoplifting, theft or trespassing.

Lamola said overcrowding in the country's prisons posed a risk as the virus could spread rapidly in enclosed spaces like cells. 

He added prisons were already 32.58% overcrowded as of 4 May.

ALSO READ | These are the 'priority matters' SA courts will hear during lockdown - Ronald Lamola

"Another exacerbating factor is that some of the inmates already have compromised immune systems as a result of chronic conditions.

"This makes them more vulnerable to Covid-19 and it can have a catastrophic affect on inmates, officials, communities around correctional centres, as well as the broader public," Lamola said.

The DA has criticised the move, with MP Glynnis Breytenbach saying the decision might lead to a "greater humanitarian crisis" than the one the government was trying to avoid.


Stay healthy and entertained during the national lockdown. Sign up for our Lockdown Living newsletter. Register and manage your newsletters in the new News24 app by clicking on the Profile tab

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
How has the delay in schools' opening impacted your life?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
It's a disaster! We're struggling to manage work and kids at home
40% - 931 votes
It's a struggle, but we learnt lessons from last year's closures
20% - 457 votes
It's a relief, this second wave is bad and kids need to be at home
40% - 944 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.10
(+0.16)
ZAR/GBP
20.71
(+0.00)
ZAR/EUR
18.40
(+0.10)
ZAR/AUD
11.69
(-0.15)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+0.11)
Gold
1855.40
(-0.09)
Silver
25.60
(+0.24)
Platinum
1101.00
(+0.14)
Brent Crude
54.99
(0.00)
Palladium
2359.00
(+0.19)
All Share
63987.92
(-0.29)
Top 40
58886.26
(-0.14)
Financial 15
11685.83
(-2.13)
Industrial 25
86576.24
(+1.21)
Resource 10
62699.98
(-1.34)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo