Pollsmoor reduces overcrowding by 90%

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pretoria – The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) on Tuesday told members of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services in Parliament that overcrowding in Pollsmoor prison has been reduced by 90%. 

This was in response to a Cape Town High Court Order which compelled the department to reduce overcrowding in Pollsmoor Remand Detention by at least 150%.

Members of the Portfolio Committee appreciated the progress made in terms of physical exercise, adequate beds, hygiene and assaults.

The portfolio committee urged the department to work closely with the justice cluster in order to find lasting solutions to the challenges of overcrowding as this is not only a DCS problem.

In order to create more bed space in the Cape Metro, Pollsmoor, Goodwood and Malmesbury correctional facilities have been earmarked to largely accommodate Remand Detainees. 

As a result, sentenced offenders were being diverted to other centres in the province and the Northern Cape and Free State.

Constructed in 1975 to accommodate 1 619 offenders, Pollsmoor had 4 066 (251%) inmates by 6 December 2016. 

The DCS came up with an action plan which has halved the inmate population by a staggering 161.09%, (2 570) as of 8 May 2017. 

The issue of overcrowding at correctional facilities, particularly in Pollsmoor, was brought to court by Sonke Gender Justice, making reference to a number of challenges as cited by Jugde Edwin Cameron’s Report of 2015. 

Although the case was brought against the Government of South Africa and listed Correctional Services as one of the respondents, it was important for the DCS to speedily expedite the matter and reduce overcrowding.

Pollsmoor Remand Detention Centre was designed to accommodate only 1 619 offenders. However, the past 42 years has seen new courts being built in the Cape Metro thus significantly increasing the offender population in this centre. 

As a result, a number of services were compromised and these were highlighted greatly by the Cameron Report. – SAnews.gov.za

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