Today, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele stated that it would have been optimistic to think that none of the offenders who received special remissions would reoffend. To date, 71 offenders have been rearrested. This is 71 too many.
As the Democratic Alliance (DA) has stated before, two offenders are rearrested on average every day. At this rate, a conservative estimate of 150 individuals will be rearrested before the process ends on 23 July. Although Justice Minister Jeff Radebe called this number ‘very negligible’ today, we regard this number as a failure by Correctional Services to ensure that released offenders have been properly rehabilitated.
The Minister has also stated that only 17,556 out of 167,819 prisoners were actively involved in correctional programmes. This amounts to around 10% of the prison population and would go a long way toward explaining why 71 offenders are now back in prison. The Department of Correctional Services is clearly failing to ensure that there is an adequate rehabilitation and reintegration process.
During my visit to Pollsmoor last month, it became apparent that the pre-release programme is inadequate. The programme needs to be far more holistic, with a greater focus on rehabilitation and reintegration.
I have called on Minister Ndebele to answer questions on the remissions process and it has been agreed that he will brief the Committee on 1 August. He must answer for the continued lack of a clear policy framework and the absence of concrete mechanisms to address reoffending. He must also explain to the Committee why the lessons learned from the previous special remission process in 2005 were not applied to this process.
The poor handling of the remissions process has put the safety of ordinary South Africans in jeopardy and this cannot be considered as ‘very negligible’.