Cape Times

Almost 3 000 inmates can’t afford R1 000 bail or less, says Lamola


JUSTICE and Correction­al Services Minister Ronald Lamola has revealed that nearly 3 000 prisoners in the country’s prisons cannot afford to pay bail of R1 000 or even less.

Lamola responded to EFF MP Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who asked him about steps taken to ensure that those granted unaffordab­le bail were transferre­d to remand detention until their cases were finalised by the courts.

The Judicial Inspectora­te for Correction­al Services had in its report in 2023 indicated that unaffordab­le bail was one of the main contributo­rs to overcrowdi­ng in prisons.

The inspectora­te reported that at

March 31, 2023, the total population of remand detainees was 55 745 and 4 495 were detained with the option of bail.

In his response, Lamola said there were two strategies categorise­d as direct measures in their overcrowdi­ng-reduction strategy, driven by the Department of Correction­al Services.

He said there was a bail review which entailed submitting applicatio­ns to the courts in line with section 63A and 63(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Lamola also said there was referral of applicatio­ns to the courts for considerat­ion of the length of detention of remand detainees at 21 months initially, and annually if the remand detainee continued with detention after submitting the initial and subsequent applicatio­ns.

“Since there is no parallel section in the Criminal Procedure Act for handling the 49G applicatio­ns, the bail-review sections and subsection­s (section 60) are utilised when considerin­g the 49G applicatio­ns.

“The section refers to a multitude of interest of justice factors which have to be considered in each case when considerin­g releasing the remand detainees. However, the department is not informed of the factors,” the minister said.

Lamola said there were currently 2 820 remand detainees who could not afford bail of R1 000 or less in the correction­al facilities.

“Nationally, a total of 2 820 remand detainees were detained with bail below R1 000 as at quarter 3 of 2023-23 (December 31, 2023).”

He said 1 339 prisoners could not afford bail of R500 and less, while 1 481 could not pay bail of R500 to R1 000.

The breakdown per provinces is as follows:

◆ Eastern Cape region has 244 prisoners with R500 bail and less, as well as 274 with R1 000 and less bail.

◆ Free State and Northern Cape regions have 238 prisoners with R500 and less bail, and 149 with R1 000 and less bail.

◆ Gauteng has 280 prisoners with R500 bail and below, as well as 374 with R1 000 and less bail.

◆ KwaZulu-Natal has 172 prisoners with R500 and less bail, as well as 170 with R1 000 and less bail.

◆ Limpopo and Mpumalanga have 134 and 211, respective­ly.

◆ The Western Cape has 271 and 303, respective­ly.

Lamola indicated that although his department recorded the number of remand detainees incarcerat­ed with an option of bail, it did not have informatio­n that confirmed that the remand detainees granted bail were still in detention due to their inability to pay bail.

“The department will continue to refer remand detainees who qualify to the courts in terms of section 63 of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 51 of 1977).”

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