Electronic tagging of parolees tested

Correctional Services hopes the electronic monitoring pilot process will lessen the burden on SA prisons.

Correctional Services hopes the electronic monitoring pilot process will lessen the burden on SA prisons.

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Correctional Services is hopeful that a pilot project to electronically tag prisoners will be a success.

The GPS device which has a solar charger keeps the department aware of parolees' movements and also acts as a cellphone by enabling officials to contact the prisoners.

Hard Livings boss Rashied Staggie, who was released on day parole earlier this year, is required to wear such a device.

Staggie was released on parole after serving over a decade for rape.

Acting Correctional Services National Commissioner Nontsikelelo Jolingana told the Redi Tlhabi Show that 150 convicts are involved with the pilot project.

"At the moment we are piloting with 150 offenders and we are focusing on those lifers that have served a period of 20 to 25 years. They have committed serious crimes including violent crimes and murder."

Jolingana said electronic tagging helps the department keep an eye on offenders once they are back in their communities.

"When we release them on parole, we tag them to make sure that risk is minimised as much as possible. Moving forward, we are hoping that electronic monitoring can be used as a primary sentencing option to enforce certain restrictions on the offender."

Jolingana says the tag alerts Correctional Services within seven seconds if a parolee leaves the inclusion zone.

Correctional Services will be working closely with the criminal justice system to make sure that the project is effective.

The department also hopes to use the prisoner tags on people who commit petty crimes in order to lessen the burden on prisons.