Justice and Correctional Services minister, Mike Masutha, says implementing the Nelson Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners will encourage the humane treatment of inmates the world over.
He spoke at the Drakenstein Correctional facility in Paarl, where he launched the rules.
The event is part of commemorating the centenary birthday celebration of former President Mandela.
The Mandela rules are a set of universally acknowledged minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners to which member states of the United Nations committed themselves.
The Nelson Mandela rules for the treatment of prisoners were first adopted in 1955 and in 2015 they were revised.
Revised areas include medical and health services, disciplinary action, investigations of death and torture in custody and access to legal representation, among others.
The aim of the rules is to ensure that prisoners are treated in a humane way.
Masutha says though not legally binding the rules could improve the lives of those behind bars.
“They will provide a comprehensive and powerful guide that will enable to us to implement our laws, including our own constitution here and elsewhere more effectively and in a more coordinated way, for the betterment of quality of life of our inmates.”
One of the inmates at Drakenstein Correctional facility, Clinton le Roux explained that through the Nelson Mandela rules, offenders like himself can turn their lives around.
“With all the NGO’s that are giving me a hand up, I want to look them in the eye and say I am willing to change and to better myself; so that society and those I have harmed can see the true worth we posses.”
Masutha adds that a way of curbing the problem of overcrowding in prisons is to decriminalise some crimes.