The South African government has announced that it will authorize the release of up to 35,000 prisoners to supposedly mark the anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s 1994 victory (Freedom Day) which marked the end of Apartheid and the beginning of a new era. In reality however, although special pardons given out by the government are “traditional”, the release of so many is due to the serious overcrowding problem in the country’s prisons.
Of the approximately 35,000 prisoners, around 15,000 will be released “conditionally or unconditionally” while the 20,000 other individuals will simply be released on probation or parole if they qualify.
South Africa’s current President Jacob Zuma assured the public that violent and deranged criminals will not be released including those incarcerated for sexual and drug-related offenses.
In all, the overcrowding will be reduced from around 34% over the limit to 20% over the limit.
Post-Apartheid has seen to the government trying to reform including improving prisons and the quality of life in the system although they have been rather slow.
In addition to pardoning the large number of prisoners, the Department of Correctional Services will be reducing thousands of small time offenders’ sentences by as much as 2 years.
(Cover Photo: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News)