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South African prisons are filling up with mother and daughters who have killed male abusers in their families, the minister of correctional services said on Sunday.
“We have witnessed an increase in the number of women serving life sentences, as a result of killing their partners,” Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said in a statement issued after the department's excellence awards at the weekend.
“What is even more disturbing is that some of these women are serving time together with their daughters, who assisted them in committing these murders after they themselves were direct, or indirect, victims of abuse by their fathers.”
Ndebele said these woman needed help dealing with the trauma of having experienced often long-term physical and emotion abuse.
He said another growing number of female prisoners were those who had violently acted against other women “due to competition for affection from their male partners”.
Ndebele said the self-esteem of these inmates needed to be built back up.
He also said that the number of women prisoners who were pregnant or had babies under two years at the time of entering jail was of great concern.
Ndebele said that according to the World Prison Brief, South Africa, with 160 000 inmates, had the largest prison population in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.
“The vast bulk of our inmates are young black men.”
Ndebele said teenagers as young as 17 were serving prison terms for serious crimes,
“Our average inmate comes to us as a young substance abuser who has dropped out of school before high school, is functionally illiterate and, more often than not, homeless.” - Sapa