Almost 19 000 prisoners will be released on parole to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic from the already overcrowded correctional facilities in the country. This has been announced by Minister of Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorized the placement on parole of inmates convicted for petty crimes.
This is in response to the United Nations’ (UN) call for countries to reduce their prison populations.
Currently, the country’s correctional facilities are overcrowded with a population of 155 000 inmates.
The President has warned these offenders may be arrested if they violate their release conditions. He said the dispensation excludes prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment or for those serving terms for including sexual offenses, murder, and attempted as well as gender-based violence and child abuse.
Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has confirmed that convicted murderers Oscar Pistorius and Janusz Waluś will not qualify due to the nature of the crimes they have been convicted for.
Cases recorded at correctional services facilities
A total of 172 cases of the virus have been confirmed at correctional service facilities nationwide.
Minister Lamola says 66 inmates and 36 officials at correctional facilities in the Eastern Cape have tested positive for the coronavirus.
In the Western Cape, 52 officials have tested positive. Lamola was addressing a media conference in Pretoria on Friday.
The Minister says COVID-19 preventative measures have been stretched to the limit at correctional facilities in the country and the virus continues to spread. He says this required decisive action.