Government to launch Mandela Rules for treatment of prisoners

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha says government will this year launch the Nelson Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners. 

The Minister said this when briefing journalists ahead of tabling the Correctional Services Budget Vote speech in Old Assembly Chamber in Parliament on Thursday. 

Masutha said the launch of the Mandela Rules is one of the things that will be unveiled to commemorate the centenary birthday celebrations of struggle icons Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu. 

“In July this year, our country will launch the Nelson Mandela Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. 

“The Mandela Rules, which Cabinet approved in March this year, are a set of universally acknowledged minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners to which member states of the United Nations committed themselves in December,” he said. 

Plans to curb security breaches at Correctional facilities 

The Minister said, meanwhile, that safety and security at correctional facilities remained a priority for the department. 

He said recent incidents where prisoners escaped from prison will be dealt with. 

“We are working with law enforcement agencies to ensure that there are no security breaches in our centres and that those who compromise security or otherwise wilfully contribute to security breaches face consequences. 

“Of the recent escapes in the Johannesburg Correctional Centre, only seven inmates are still on the run. Two were shot dead by the Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal and seven were rearrested,” he said. 

Changing corrections 

The Minister said the department’s correctional model has been evolving over the years. 

To this end, he said a total of 77 953 offenders completed their correctional programmes in 2017/18. 

He said the department aims to increase the percentage of offenders who complete correctional programmes form 76% in 2017/18 to 80% in the current financial year. 

“Our rehabilitation programme has provided a real second chance in life to many offenders with the necessary skills that enable them to become productive members of society upon release. 

“These include people who entered our centres with only a primary school education and left as artisans,” he said. 

Masutha said the department will continue its work of addressing overcrowding through a pursuit of a multi-pronged strategy, which will include the strengthening of diversion programmes, alternative sentencing and creating additional bed spaces and better management of the parole system. 

He said the department will also look at the promotion of successful social reintegration and reduction of reoffending as one of the strategies. 

As of April 2018, the Department of Correctional Services had 163 114 inmates in its 243 correctional facilities. 

Masutha said this was way above the 119 000 bed capacity that correctional centres currently have.  –