Correctional Services Minister to meet WC MEC

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pretoria - Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is to meet with the Western Cape MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz following recent media reports on the impending release of 65 gang leaders on parole.

The Department of Correctional Services yesterday confirmed that it has received a request for a meeting from the Office of MEC Fritz. It is not yet known as to when the two would meet.

According to the reports, it is alleged that MEC Fritz said he shares the list of names of the 65 gang leaders with the department.

MEC Fritz yesterday conceded to the department's officials that such a list did not exist.

According to Fritz the meeting is aimed at putting into context'' his comments to the media that there was an impending release of ''gang leaders'' from incarceration through parole by the department in the Western Cape as well as to share his ideas and suggestions on the regulation of parole with the department. 

In the interim the Ministry of Correctional Services clarified that parole is not a right but a privilege. In order for any offender to qualify for consideration for placement on parole, he or she must have not only proven themselves to be exemplary and an inspiration to fellow inmates though their conduct must have met certain criteria to be considered eligible to even appear before a Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (CSPB).

These include not only rehabilitative courses that deal with correcting the offending behavior such as sexual violence education, anger management, life coaching and orientation as well as restorative justice workshops but must have completed a series of courses in vocational skills programs to ensure that they are able to sustain themselves once reintegrated back into the community.

Also the Ministry of Correctional Services is finalising policy to make mandatory for offenders considered being youth (17 to 35 years of age) that they complete Grade 12 as minimum academic requirement before they can be considered for placement on parole.

Following a request by the Department of Correctional Services in the Western Cape that all 10 Correctional Supervision and Parole Boards (CSPB) in the province conduct an audit of the candidates that are due to be considered for placement on parole in 2011, all Correctional Supervision and Parole Boards in the Western Cape have reported that the number of offenders due to be considered for placement on parole in the Western Cape falls far short of the reported ''65'' as alleged by Western Cape Community Safety MEC Fritz and that in the profiles of persons to be considered for parole in the province in 2011, there were no noticeable anomalies such as that of being gang leaders. 

The Department of Correctional Services has reiterated its commitment to making a meaningful contribution toward a transformed and integrated Criminal Justice System in South Africa that seeks to make all South Africans feel that they are safe from crime.