Cape Town - The South African Sentenced and Awaiting Trial Prisoners Organisation (Sasapo) has initiated a crime awareness campaign to address skills development, learnerships and apprenticeships programmes for ex-offenders on parole.
Sasapo chairperson Phindile Zweni said the aim of the initiative was to deal with challenges for ex-offenders to find employment and fight rejection by communities because of their criminal records. He said that in most cases those challenges resulted in ex-offenders re-offending and going back to prison.
“The Correctional Services Department is mandated to ensure the effective rehabilitation of offenders into normal society, something that the department unfortunately fails to fulfil,” Zweni said.
He said that prompted the organisation to form partnerships with other stakeholders to ensure successful and sustainable implementation of intervention strategies to alleviate the high recidivism of released offenders.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday authorised the placement on parole of selected categories of offenders to curb the spread of coronavirus in prisons.
“The decision taken by the president to combat the spread of Covid-19 in correctional centres could relieve our correctional services facilities of just under 19000 inmates out of a population of 155000,” the Presidency said.
Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the department has recorded 21 new Covid-19 cases, with the total number now at 198.
Nxumalo said Eastern Cape recorded 115 cases - 42 officials, 73 inmates and 59 recoveries with two deaths. Western Cape recorded 67 cases - 64 officials, three inmates and 30 recoveries with one death. Gauteng recorded 13 cases - four officials and nine inmates. Limpopo recorded two cases of officials with one recovery, and head office in Pretoria had recorded one case of an official.
Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz expressed his concern over Ramaphosa’s announcement, and called on Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to provide clarity on the steps that would be taken to ensure that the whereabouts of those granted parole were monitored by the parole officer and the police so that residents were protected.
Fritz asked Lamola to provide information on how many parolees will be released in the Western Cape and in which communities.
“Too often, we see released parolees left destitute in the towns of the prisons in which they were released. Often they have no home to stay in and are left on the streets, tempted to return to a life of crime. We have seen horrific crimes being committed by those released on parole, and we cannot allow this to happen again,” Fritz said.
He called on parole boards who will consider parole for the 19000 prisoners to do so with the utmost integrity.
“They must be above reproach and keep in mind their decision impacts on the safety of every resident in the country. It is imperative parole boards consult with psychologists and social workers prior to granting parole.”