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Prisoners to be given books - Ndebele

New minister wants books to be given to inmates as part of their rehabilitation.

An offender studying inside a cell at Leeuwkop Prison. Picture: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Newly appointed Minister of Correctional Services Sibusiso Ndebele on Sunday said the number of inmates rearrested after being pardoned by the president was very small.

President Jacob Zuma on Freedom Day announced that around 39,000 non-violent offenders would have their prison sentences reduced and be released early.

Of those released, 47 have since been rearrested.

Ndebele blamed a weak focus on rehabilitation programmes in prisons.

He said prisoners return to crime when they are not accepted in their previous communities and struggle to make ends meet.

The minister said he wants to put emphasis on the rehabilitation of prisoners.

He intends starting by providing inmates with books.

He said prisoners need to read often and acquire skills in industries such as plumbing and carpentry before leaving prison.

Ndebele was moved from the Ministry of Roads and Transport during a cabinet reshuffle last week.