The Citizen (KZN)

More focus on crime victims

- Rorisang Kgosana

Upcoming amendement­s to the parole system will see more emphasis put on the victims of crime.

The victims and their families will receive counsellin­g and will be consulted when the offender in their case applies for parole, if the proposed changes become law.

Speaking at an Imbizo at Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria yesterday, Acting Minister of Justice and Correction­al Services Faith Muthambi tabled the revised draft parole system paper for discussion and input from 53 correction­al supervisio­n parole boards.

“Our emphasis in this revised paper is on the victim more than the perpetrato­r,” she said.

She said there had been criticism about the parole system, which was introduced into legislatio­n in the Correction­al Services Act of 1998.

Once a person is a crime victim, the department should work with the social developmen­t department to establish a counsellin­g system, she said.

“The paper will look at certain gaps in the current parole system. For example, once a person is incarcerat­ed, their victim only sees them again in court.

“But after conviction and sentencing, the victim moves on with their life but would have to confront their offender again when he applies for parole.

“We need to look at those issues and put a counsellin­g system in place to make sure that when the time comes, the victims are ready.”

National director of public prosecutio­ns Shaun Abrahams has establishe­d a task team to review the Victim’s Charter, which would be included in the draft paper.

“In terms of our integrated criminal justice strategy, issues of correction don’t remain the sole responsibi­lity of the department.

“Any sector department, like social developmen­t, should track victims and look at their welfare as they were the ones violated.

“Once engagement­s with the relevant stakeholde­rs have been concluded, the necessary amendments would be made and the proposed Bill would be tabled in parliament for approval.

“I agree that now is the time for a total re-examinatio­n of the South African approach to parole.

“Our parole system has undergone significan­t shifts over the past decades and also plays a significan­t role in the current overcrowdi­ng [in prisons] and fiscal crisis,” she added.

Our emphasis in this revised paper is on the victim more than the perpetrato­r. Faith Muthambi Acting Minister of Justice and Correction­al Services

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