Remission of sentences is not a solution - DA

SAPOHR has welcomed government’s decision to reduce prison sentences for some inmates.

Offenders at Leeuwkop Prison. Picture: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Prisoners' Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR) on Saturday welcomed government's decision to reduce prison sentences for some inmates, by as much as 18 months.

The Department of Correctional Services confirmed that thousands of prisoners will have their sentences reduced and will be released from next month.

President Jacob Zuma's announced that thousands of prisoners will have their sentences reduced and will be released from next month.

He was speaking at the Union Buildings, during Freedom Day celebrations on Friday.

Zuma said government will grant certain categories of prisoners a remission of sentence because of overcrowded prisons and to commemorate 18 years of democracy.

There will be a 6 and 12-month blanket special remission of sentence to all sentenced offenders,inmates, probationers and parolees.

It is projected that over 14, 000 inmates and about 20, 000 parolees qualify and will be released conditionally or unconditionally, as part of the process.

SAPOHR spokesperson Golden Miles Bhudu said the organisation welcomed the "long over-due announcement " of the special remission of sentence to offenders.

The Department of Justice reiterated that this is necessary to reduce the level of overcrowding in prisons by 20 percent.

However, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has criticised government's move. DA Shadow Minister of Correctional Services James Selfe said a reduction in sentences was not a solution for overcrowded prisons.

He said the decision is an insult to victims of crime and their families.

Offenders who are guilty of serious offences like murder, rape and kidnapping will not be eligible for a reduction in their sentences.

Mapisa-Nqakula assured citizens that public safety is government's greatest concern.

The process is due to start on May 14.