By Anga-Anganda Bushwana
In August, President Cyril Ramaphosa approved the remission of non-violent offenders in South Africa to reduce prison overcrowding. As a result, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) released 89 prisoners from Waainek Prison in Makhanda. The release of eligible offenders began on August 21, 2023, and is expected to continue until November 2, 2023.
Singabakho Nxumalo, the DCS spokesperson, says the programme is conducted according to departmental policy. “As per the departmental policy, offenders who are released unconditionally are not monitored by the Community Corrections office, as they are released on their sentence expiration date,” said Nxumalo.
He added that offenders released are given parole conditions according to their risk classification and are monitored by Community Corrections officials.
As part of the release process, the attendance and completion of a compulsory pre-release programme is required for all offenders who qualify for release due to special remission. “The programme is designed to ensure that offenders are adequately prepared for their release and have the necessary skills to reintegrate into society,” said Nxumalo.
He adds, “Confirmation of addresses is conducted before the release of offenders, and families are informed during this process, and inmates who have committed serious crimes, victim consultation, victim-offender dialogue, and victim-offender mediation are conducted with victims and family members.”
DCS officials must also participate in community criminal justice system crime awareness programmes to share information on special remission programmes and departmental operations.
According to Nxumalo, of the 89 offenders released from Waainek Prison, 85 qualified for unconditional release as they reached their sentence expiration date. In comparison, four offenders are placed conditionally and will be monitored by Community Corrections officials.