Department of Correctional Services officials are now receiving managment training to assist them in coping with the increasing stress of dealing with large volumes of prisoners. A warder at an East London Prison keeps a close eye on prisoners. 241006 Picture: Steve Lawrence

A prisoner who was granted a special remission of sentence is back behind bars after breaking into a house and raping a woman because he was bored.

The man was released from a prison in Wepener, Free State on May 8 and allegedly committed housebreaking and rape offences on May 22.

According to the Department of Correctional Services, the man said he had committed the crimes because he had nothing to do.

The man is one of the 37 783 prisoners who were released from prisons across the country after President Jacob Zuma granted a remission of sentence to certain categories of prisoners. He is not the only one back in jail.

Within a month of their early release, 47 are already back behind bars for murder, rape, attempted murder, robbery, assault, kidnapping, theft, stock theft, possession of drugs, possession of stolen goods and housebreaking.

When asked why they committed the crimes so soon after their release, they have blamed boredom, homelessness, hunger, poverty, drug addiction and unemployment as the reason they re-offended.


One of the offenders arrested for theft said she had committed the crime intentionally to be re-arrested and put back in prison because she had nowhere to stay after her release.

The woman, who had been freed from Pretoria Female Correctional Services, was arrested for theft four days after her release.

Another man, who had initially been arrested for assault, committed murder just after being pardoned. The Thohoyandou, Limpopo, man had been out for only two days. “He is alleged to have gone home and found his girlfriend with another lover. A fight broke out and he is alleged to have killed the girlfriend’s lover. He handed himself to the police, who arrested him, but he later committed suicide in the cells,” said Department of Correctional Services spokeswoman Sibongile Khumalo.

One man, who was initially arrested for attempted murder, was released and re-arrested for attempted murder soon after gaining his freedom.

Another man from Beaufort West, Western Cape, who faces a charge of stock theft, said hunger was the reason for his crime. The animal he stole has not been specified but the man said there was no food at home and his family was hungry.

Many of the crimes committed are housebreakings and theft and, according to Khumalo, the re-offenders claimed that poverty, unemployment and the need to feed their drug habits drove them to commit the crime.

Another man, who was on parole for housebreaking and theft, was arrested a few hours after being freed. Khumalo said that as part of his conditions, Correctional Services officials used to check on him periodically at home. However, on May 9, they told him that he was now a free man and would no longer be getting visits. A few hours later, however, he was behind bars for housebreaking and theft.

Khumalo said that although the prisoners had been released in a gesture of humanity, those that had re-offended had spat in the face of the government which released them.

“And other departments are affected, too. The police have to hunt them and take them to police stations. The Justice Department has to invest time and efforts to bring the suspects to court and sentence them.”

The release of prisoners will end on July 6.


Remission criteria

The special remission of sentences was announced by President Jacob Zuma in April, in the spirit of Freedom Day.

The government has previously granted several such remissions of sentences.

In terms of the April remission, all sentenced inmates, probationers and parolees got a six-month remission of sentence, irrespective of their crimes.

A further 12 months remission was granted to all except those sentenced for aggressive, sexual, firearm and drug-related offences.

Both remissions excluded:

* Any inmates defined as mentally ill and held under the Mental Health Act.

* Anyone declared a dangerous criminal in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

* Any escaped prisoners who were on the run at the time.

The Correctional Services Department was to conduct pre-release assessments and run some pre-release preparation programmes. Releases began in batches from May 14 starting with children, youths, the aged, disabled and women, irrespective of the length of their sentences.The rest of the releases were phased according to the length of sentence, with those with shorter sentences released first. – Louise Flanagan.

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The Star