It comes as no surprise that 43 of the offenders who were granted a special remission of sentence by the President in May are already back in prison. We warned at the time that the process was flawed because insufficient care had been taken to mitigate the risk of re-offending.
The Democratic Alliance calls on the Department of Correctional Services not to release any further offenders until it is satisfied that people are ready to be reintegrated into society and won't reoffend. One reoffender is one too many.
During my visit to Pollsmoor last month it became apparent that the pre-release programme is inadequate. The programme needs to be far more holistic, with a greater focus on rehabilitation and reintegration.
When President Zuma announced the remissions, the DA pointed out that the Department had not learnt from the mistakes of the previous round of special remissions in 2005. On that occasion, 157 offenders were re-admitted to correctional centres as awaiting-trial detainees within less than two months of their release.
The National Assembly must debate this round of special remissions as a matter of urgency and I will be tabling a motion to this effect at the first available opportunity.
I will also be submitting parliamentary questions to the Minister of Correctional Services to determine the nature of the offences committed, whether these re-offenders went through the pre-release programme and the grounds on which they were deemed eligible for release.
The DA maintains that the safety of South Africans should be the overriding concern in this process. The continued lack of a clear policy framework and the absence of concrete mechanisms to address reoffending show that at no point has this been a priority for government.
No further release of offenders should take place until assurance can be given that the appropriate measures have been instituted to protect the people of South Africa.
James Selfe, Shadow Minister of Correctional Services