Remissions reduce overcrowding in prison

Community members attended in numbers at the Andile Msizi Hall in Khayelitsha.

Pollsmoor Prison has released 814 inmates after President Cyril Ramaphosa decreed late last year that 14 000 offenders countrywide would have their sentences shortened.

The president announced the granting of the remissions on the Day of Reconciliation.

The Pollsmoor inmates were released from December to January 28, and 1118 offenders from both Cape Town and Mitchell’s Plain community corrections offices were also released from serving the remainder of their sentences.

This is according to Department of Correctional Services (DCS) area commissioner, Ntobeko Mketshane, who spoke at the Andile Msizi Hall, in Khayelitsha, last week, outlining the remission process.

The remissions did not apply to those serving sentences for sexual offences, murder, attempted murder, child abuse, domestic violence, armed robbery, sedition, high treason, sabotage and terrorism. Those sentenced to life imprisonment also did not qualify.

Six parolees who had re-offended since their release were now back in prison, Mr Mketshane said.

He said remission could cut an inmate’s sentence short or bring forward the date on which they qualified for parole.

Remission differed from a pardon in that the offender still had a criminal record, he noted.

“The Department of Correctional Services is deeply concerned about the recent rape and killings of girls and women by the parolees and ex-offenders,” Mr Mketshane said. “We note the recent killing of Michaela Williams of Pelican Park and Uyinene Mrwetyana.”

Michaela went missing on January 7 and her body was found two days later in Schaapkraal in Philippi.

A 48-year-old parolee released in 2018 after serving 13 years of a 20-year sentence for the rape of an 8-year-old girl was arrested shortly after he led police to where he allegedly dumped the body.

Former postal worker Luyanda Botha, who raped and murdered UCT student Uyinene Mretyana in the Clareinch post office, is serving life imprisonment at Pollsmoor.
He had been working at the post office despite having a criminal record.

Mr Mketshane pleaded with the community to welcome released ex-cons back into their homes, churches and communities.

“We noticed that offenders released experience some form of rejection, stigmatisation and lack of family support system by the community,” he said.

“We kindly request a soft landing for these offenders in your streets.”

Mr Mketshane said social ills often led to the committing of crimes. He urged communities to build strong family units.