A two-day stakeholder round table seminar is currently taking place in Cape Town to look into changes to the parole system.
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha says the parole system in South Africa needs to be revisited and adjustments must be made.
He says offenders have often taken him and the Department of Correctional Services to court challenging the country’s parole system.
South Africa’s Correctional facilities are overcrowded. The country’s old correctional facilities, coupled with the high offender numbers, do not have the capacity to accommodate them all.
Masutha says it’s time to revisit the parole system, “If there weren’t any sticking points I wouldn’t be taken to court, I am told at least 20 times a week. We are really busy in and out of court. The problem is the rehabilitation system. The very first day an offender arrives in prison.”
“Social worker and psychologist reports are sometimes not up to date; offenders sometimes are not subject to all programmes available. There are shortages of staff in some instances and we are dealing with overcrowding where there are also fiscal issues where treasury is cutting down the budget,” Masutha says.
Chairperson of the National Council for Correctional Services, Judge Esther Steyn, says there’s currently no interaction between legislation and policy.
Steyn says, “The parole system that is in place has been in operation for the last 20 years. It needs a review and it also needs to get in line with the administrative process, we’ve accepted the budget. So as much as offenders are litigating against the department we want to ensure that the legislation and policy are all in line so they can exercise these rights.”
“Gone are the days where a person would make a promise and that is what the parole would be based on. Now we need to ensure that proper rehabilitation has been done and this is a difficult task for the department,” says Steyn.