Lamola mum on future of jailed ANC bigwig John Block
Johannesburg - Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and the Department of Correctional Services have remained mum on the identities of 19000 inmates eligible for early parole, despite growing speculation that one of them is former ANC bigwig John Block.
Speculation grew after Lamola detailed categories of eligible parolees to MPS serving on the justice portfolio committee on Monday.
The minister said those who qualified included a total of 14300 inmates who were due to be released for parole in the next two years, as recommended by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier in the year.
But according to Lamola's explanation - Block and his fellow convict Trifecta boss Christo Scholtz do not qualify for early parole.
The pair were found guilty of fraud, corruption and money laundering in 2015.
However, yesterday, as speculation intensified about Block’s release, Correctional Services national spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo was unable to deny or confirm it.
In his reply, Nxumalo said: “We are still busy with internal processes. Case management committees are preparing profiles of inmates eligible for consideration. We are therefore not at a stage where centres have a list of those who are to go before the parole boards.”
He, however, said parole placement was aimed at addressing health and hygienic challenges within overcrowded correctional facilities.
“With the total inmate population of 156000, an outbreak of Covid-19 in our facilities would be catastrophic.
“Some of the correctional facilities are more than 100% overpopulated and as a consequence it will be difficult to address, manage and prevent the spread of Covid-19 within them,” Nxumalo said.
In an earlier statement, Nxumalo said the Northern Cape has an overpopulation of 0.45% of inmates - the lowest figure in the country.