SA has the most inmates in Africa - Radebe

Overcrowding in prisons is the biggest problem the Department of Correctional Services is faced with.

The entrance to the infamous Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

BENONI - Minister of Correctional Services Sibusiso Ndebele on Monday said prison populations needed to drop, as overcrowding remained the number one problem for his department.

The Minister was speaking at a discussion on prison overcrowding and breaking the cycle of crime in Benoni, east of Johannesburg.

South Africa has the highest population of inmates on the continent.

Ndebele said there were hundreds of thousands of prisoners and not enough beds to house them properly.

According to the minister, the department is focusing on a multi-pronged approach to decrease the number of prisoners housed in prisons countrywide.

He said society needed to fundamentally alter how it viewed crime - to help lessen the number of arrests.

Radebe said there was no point in blaming parents and teachers to inmates. "It is a societal problem that we must deal with, these are our kids."

Efforts to tackle the problem include building more facilities to house prisoners.