According to the Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha, over 77 953 prisoners in South African correctional facilities completed their correctional programmes in 2017/18.
The Minister said this when briefing journalists ahead of tabling the Correctional Services Budget Vote speech in Old Assembly Chamber in Parliament on Thursday.
The minister said the department aims to increase the percentage of offenders who complete correctional programmes form 76% in 2017/18 to 80% in the current financial year.
“Our rehabilitation programme has provided a real second chance in life to many offenders with the necessary skills that enable them to become productive members of society upon release.
“These include people who entered our centres with only a primary school education and left as artisans,” he said.
Masutha said the department will continue its work of addressing overcrowding through a pursuit of a multi-pronged strategy, which will include the strengthening of diversion programmes, alternative sentencing and creating additional bed spaces and better management of the parole system.
He said the department will also look at the promotion of successful social reintegration and reduction of reoffending as one of the strategies.
As of April 2018, the Department of Correctional Services had 163 114 inmates in its 243 correctional facilities.
Masutha said this was way above the 119 000 bed capacity that correctional centres currently have.
South African government will this year launch the Nelson Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners.
The launch of the Mandela Rules is one of the things that will be unveiled to commemorate the centenary birthday celebrations of struggle icons Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, said the minister.
“In July this year, our country will launch the Nelson Mandela Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
“The Mandela Rules, which Cabinet approved in March this year, are a set of universally acknowledged minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners to which member states of the United Nations committed themselves in December,”