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3 800 prisoners freed in Western Cape

Just over 3 800 prisoners in the Western Cape were released on Monday – the final batch of those set free after receiving a special presidential remission of sentences.

The release came after the department of correctional services acknowledged it was unable to confirm the number of Western Cape prisoners who have had to be put back behind bars for violating the conditions of the remission. “We are still collating the numbers,” said Department of Correctional Services’s provincial spokesman Simphiwe Xako on Monday.

Nationally, 47 prisoners have had to go back to jail, the department has confirmed.

On Freedom Day this year President Jacob Zuma announced that 14 651 sentenced offenders would be released conditionally or unconditionally and an estimated 20 855 probationers and parolees would be freed.

Meanwhile the DA’s spokesman on Correctional Services James Selfe has estimated that it costs taxpayers R6 000 a month to keep a single prisoner behind bars.

This was based on the budget the department presented to the National Assembly this month. The National Treasury allocated R17.9 billion towards Correctional Services for the 2012/ 13 financial year.

“The budget for the upkeep of prisoners, divided by the number of prisoners shows about R250 to R300 is spent per day per prisoner. Something is very wrong if (R6 000 a month is spent on a prisoner), but people who receive social grants and pensions get R1 200 per month,” he said.

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