Botho Molosankwe

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FORTY-three prisoners are back behind bars barely a month after receiving a presidential early release.

The prisoners were part of the 37 783 who were released from May 15 after President Jacob Zuma granted a special remission of sentence to certain categories of prisoners.

The 43 were arrested for a range of offences such as rape, attempted murder, robbery, assault, kidnapping, theft, stock theft, possession of drugs, possession of stolen goods and housebreaking. Two are women.

Department of Correctional Services spokeswoman Sibongile Khumalo did not give further details on where the crimes were committed, but confirmed that two of the 43 had been released from Gauteng prisons.

Two of the offences were committed in Gauteng and the others in other provinces.

Khumalo said the prisoners had had to attend a pre-release programme to facilitate their smooth integration into the community.

They had been taught life skills and it had also been drummed into their heads to leave a life of crime behind them.

Their arrests will not have any bearing on the sentences they were pardoned while serving. They may qualify for another pardon in the future.

“It will depend on what criteria will be used in future to pardon them, so we can’t say whether they will qualify for the pardon or not,” Khumalo said.

After the announcement of the special remission was announced, Hamadziripi Tamukamoyo wrote on the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) website: “Although there have been assurances from the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) that the lessons from past remissions have been learnt, some have warned that the DCS is not equipped to adequately manage either the remission or the post-release process.

“This is a crucial point, considering that for years the DCS has failed to recruit and retain staff at the appropriate levels. In addition, there has been a continued disproportionate allocation of the budget, with the rehabilitation and well-being of offenders receiving the smallest share.”

In light of the rearrest of the prisoners, Tamukamoyo’s colleague, Tizina Ramagaga, researcher in the Crime and Justice Programme at the ISS, said it was possible the released prisoners had not been completely rehabilitated.

“The department won’t know whether the person to be released is completely rehabilitated because the fact that rehabilitation is being offered is not a guarantee that the person is rehabilitated when they are given the pardon,” Ramagaga added.