Special remission of sentences announced
30 Apr 2012
Following President Jacob Zuma’s announcement on Freedom Day, of his decision to grant special remissions to sentenced offenders, parolees and probationers, the department is gearing itself for the implementation of the release process set to start on 14 May 2012.
In his speech, President announced that he was exercising his mandate in terms of Section 84(2) (j) of the Constitution which gives him powers to award special remission of sentence to certain categories of offenders as part of celebrating or commemorating a special occasion or event. He said he was granting the remissions in the spirit of Freedom Day.
Details of the special remissions process were given to members of the media by Ministers from the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster on 28 April 2012. About 14 651 sentenced offenders will be released conditionally or unconditionally and an estimated 20 855 probationers and parolees will be freed in the process.
This will be in the form of a maximum of six months remission that will be granted to all offenders, probationers, parolees and day parolees irrespective of the crime they committed. An additional 12 months remission of sentence will be granted to all offenders, probationers, parolees and day parolees in correctional centres or in the system of community corrections who are sentenced and serving sentences for crimes other than:
- Assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm (excluding common assault)
- Kidnapping/man stealing
- Public violence
- Crimes against the safety of the State including sedition, high treason, sabotage and terrorism
- Malicious damage to property
- Violations under the Domestic Violence Act
- Child abuse
- Any other crime directly linked to any of the abovementioned crimes (e.g. housebreaking with the intent to rob and robbery)
- Any attempt, inciting, soliciting or conspiracy to commit any of the abovementioned crimes.
Furthermore, any sentenced offender, probationer, parolee or day parolee who committed any firearm related crime such as these, but not limited to illegal possession, use, pointing and firing, will not qualify for the additional 12 months special remission of sentence. A firearm in this case can be any gun, cannon, recoilless gun, mortar, light mortar or launcher manufactured to fire a rocket, grenade, self-propelled grenade, bomb or explosive device.
Those who committed sexual crimes such as rape, indecent assault, intercourse with a child, child pornography, incest, sodomy, bestiality; any other crime directly linked to any of these crimes, for example, housebreaking with the intent to steal and rape; any attempt, inciting, soliciting or conspiracy to commit any of the abovementioned crimes, will not qualify for the 12-month special remission.
People who committed drug-related offences such as trading, cultivating and manufacturing prohibited drugs or any attempt, inciting, soliciting or conspiracy to commit such a crime will also not qualify for the 12-month remission. However, this does not apply to offenders sentenced only for possession of drugs; they qualify for both the six and 12-month remission.
There are, however, those who will not qualify for any special remission of sentence. These are any offender, probationer, parolee or day parolee who is certified mentally ill and is detained in accordance with the Mental Health Act on 27 April 2012; those who were still at large on 27 April 2012 after escaping or absconding and those who already benefited from special remission.
An offender sentenced on or before 27 April 2012 and who was released on bail pending appeal and report on or after 27 April 2012, where the Justice Department and/or South African Police Services indicated in writing that the offender evaded justice by not reporting to serve a sentence, will not qualify for any remission.
Lastly, an offender sentenced to correctional supervision after being detained for a period not exceeding 48 hours and who awaits referral to the court due to violation of conditions, will also not qualify for any remission.
The remission of sentences will follow a 10-week release process which will include a compulsory pre-release assessment and programme. Offenders who qualify for immediate, unconditional release may only be freed by 14 May 2012 in controllable groups. The release process must be finalised on or before 6 July 2012.
Issued by: Department of Correctional Services
30 Apr 2012
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