Minister calls for debate on SA's parole system

Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Wednesday called for an open debate on the performance of the country’s new parole system that has been in place for four-and-a-half years.

Mapisa-Nqakula was addressing more than 100 delegates that included the chairs and deputy chairs of the country’s 52 parole boards at a two-day summit in Boksburg, Johannesburg.

“We must all agree that parole—as a legal dispensation—happens in a dynamic socio-legal paradigm,” read a copy of her speech.

“For us to best ensure the effectiveness of parole, we must have a deep appreciation of the society we function in.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said she was disturbed when an editorial in a daily newspaper last Friday insinuated the parole function effectively undermined the judiciary in that it reversed sentencing decisions made by the judiciary.

“Clearly there is a lot of educating that the criminal justice cluster needs to do,” she said.

The ANC’s 52nd conference had resolved to “encourage community participation in parole boards and corrections, rehabilitation and reintegration initiatives”.

In considering recommendations of the National Council on Correctional Services regarding placement of lifers on parole, she identified a number of cases that should not have been submitted to the council in the first place.

She called for a review of the whole system, starting with the case management committees that should ensure sufficient information was gathered to help make informed decisions.

Limited victim participation and, in a number of instances, non-participation of other criminal justice partners should be addressed to better oil the wheels of the country’s parole system.

“I do not want to hear that you are not able to track down victims of crime that must be consulted in the making of decisions.”

Since their establishment in July 2005 the 52 parole boards considered more than 200 000 applications for parole and granted parole to more than 100 000 offenders.—Sapa

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