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Women are the fastest growing category of the prison population and the Department of Correctional Services plans to address this by tackling problems that cause women to come into conflict with the law.
Speaking at the St Albans Correctional Centre in Port Elizabeth this week as part of the department’s Women’s Month Programme, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said the number of women serving life sentences for killing their partners had also increased.
Ndebele said these women needed counselling during their incarceration.
Department spokesman Koos Gerber said women made up about 3 percent of the total of 146 000 detainees.
Over the past three years, there was a slight increase, reaching 3.758 percent in 2011/12.
“Gauteng houses the largest number of female inmates at 850, followed by the Western Cape with 700,” Gerber said.
Ndebele said: “These women should be assisted to deal with the trauma caused by years of physical and emotional abuse.”
He told the women not to remain in abusive relationships until they got to the point where they took the law into their own hands.
The department wanted women in correctional centres to educate other women about the dangers of staying in abusive relationships, he said.