President grants remissions to prisoners on Reconciliation Day

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa will be granting remissions to several prisoners.

The President made the announcement in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal, on Monday, as South Africa marked Reconciliation Day.

The President said remission of sentences is always carefully considered and takes into account the interests of the public and the administration of justice.

“In celebrating the 25 years of democracy, and in line with established international practice, I have decided, in terms of the Constitution, to grant a special remission of sentence to specific categories of sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees. 

“We recognise that incarceration has followed a judicial process and that sentences have been duly imposed after conviction,” said the President.

The process will be done in various phases, starting with special categories, including women, children, the elderly, youth and inmates with disabilities.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola will lead the process and provide the relevant details and specific circumstances with regard to relevant offenders.

There have been previous remissions of this nature granted to coincide with important national days.

With South Africa grappling with gender-based violence, President Ramaphosa emphasised that this process of remission excludes those sentenced for violent, aggressive and sexual offences, as well as people declared dangerous criminals in terms of section 286A of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977.

These include President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration on 10 May 1994, the first anniversary of the country’s freedom on 27 April 1995, Madiba’s 80th birthday on 18 July 1998, the first year of President Mbeki’s second term of office on 30 May 2005 and in celebration of 18 years of freedom on 27 April 2012.

President Ramaphosa punted that reconciliation also requires a move towards addressing skewed patterns of ownership.

“We will continue with the restitution process, and with freeing up state-owned land for farming and for the building of houses for our people.

“Reconciliation requires that we end inequality in all its forms, not only in access to land, but in access to water, education and skills, to employment, to housing, to health care and to basic services,” said the President.

This years’ commemorations were celebrated in line with the United Nation General Assembly’s proclamations for 2019 which put emphasis on the significance of indigenous languages.

President Ramaphosa called on South Africans to not see language as a barrier to coexistence but as a means to reach out to those of different cultures. –