How medical parole works in South Africa

The credibility of South African medical parole system has been cast into the spotlight once again, after Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha recently announced his decision on the parole applications of three apartheid assassins, Eugene de Kock, Clive Derby-Lewis and Ferdie Barnard.

Project co-ordinator of the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Lukas Muntingh said that within an average of 1000 and 1200 applicants roughly 10% of applicants are successfully granted parole.

Following the controversy in recent years around the granting of medical parole to Jackie Selebi and Schabir Shaik a review of how the regulations would be applied was undertaken.

We can only speculate whether there was meddling in the Schabir Shaik case or not. But the end result is one that raised a lot of suspicion, and brought the system into disrepute. Whatever the reasons were; stricter and clearer guidelines were developed in order to prevent the re-occurrence of that situation.”

Lukas Muntingh, Project co-ordinator of the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative at UWC

What is medical parole?

Medical parole is a parole system granted on medical or humanitarian conditions. The parole system in South Africa is governed by the Correctional Services Act. In March of 2012 the Act was amended to simultaneously broaden the circumstances under which medical parole can be granted and tighten up the process undertaken for it.

So the quality of medical parole decisions that we will take from now onwards will be decisions that can stand up to scrutiny by the South African society.

Former Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on the new medical parole system

Who can apply?

According to Muntingh, the purpose of medical parole is for the person ‘to die a dignified and consolatory death’.

The legislation prior to the 2012 amendment stipulated that the applicant must be in the final stages of their terminal illness. The new amendment, however, omits the terms “final stages” and it is in the regulations to the Act that the decision-makers are listing the illnesses and stages of illness which begin to define the degree of sickness an applicant must be in.

The regulations also say that the medical parole review board can take any other factor into consideration, granted that it is in line with Section 79 of the Correctional Services Act. This means that the board, to a certain extent, is able to exercise their own discretion.

The issue of what kind of criminal applies is a contentious issue, but according to Muntingh, ultimately, the kind of offence should play no part in a medical parole verdict. It is however, complicated by the list of regulations.

The Correctional Services legislation changes affect the sentence calculations and parole applications for offenders. Though there are variations, there is a rule of thumb that those sentenced after 2004 are required to serve at least half their sentence before applying for parole. Whilst those sentenced prior to 2004, generally have to serve one third of their sentence before they can be considered.

How is the outcome decided?

As of 2012, a prisoner may be released on medical parole under the three following conditions:

  1. The offender is suffering from a terminal disease or condition or if such offender is rendered physically incapacitated as a result of injury, disease or illness so as to severely limit daily activity or inmate self-care;
  2. The risk of re-offending is low; and
  3. There are appropriate arrangements for the inmate’s supervision, care and treatment within the community to which the inmate is to be released.

It could be that with these amendments in place there will be many disparities in applying the laws on medical parole simply based on socio-economic status, but Muntingh cautions generalizing as the exact profile of medical parole refusals is unknown.

It is very often the case that the person meets the requirement because of their health condition. They do not pose a risk of re-offending, but very often there are no support structures on the outside such as family or access to healthcare …where, if they were to be released, they would be in a poorer state of care than they would be in prison.

Lukas Muntingh, Project co-ordinator of the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative at UWC

Who decides the outcome?

The sentence length determines who makes the decision to grant regular parole. If an inmate is serving a sentence of two years or less, then the responsibility lies with the head of the prison. Instead of being seen by the parole board, they are seen by the case management committee and the head of the prison makes the decision.

If the sentence is longer than two years, but not life imprisonment, it is the parole board that decides. However if a person is sentenced to life imprisonment it then becomes the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services who makes the final parole decision.

If the decision is challenged and taken on judicial review, ultimately the Minister must justify in court, that the decision taken was “rational decision based on facts”.

Medical parole, however, must come from a recommendation by the parole board, to the medical parole review board.


This article first appeared on 702 : How medical parole works in South Africa


Recommended

by THE NEWSROOM
Read More
New breakthrough will help target optimum cancer drugs for use in patients

New breakthrough will help target optimum cancer drugs for use in patients

The Naked Scientist Chris Smith answers all things science - from diseases to birds and why the second tooth doesn't grow back.

[LISTEN] NPA sets record straight on Prasa, but Zackie Achmat remains firm

[LISTEN] NPA sets record straight on Prasa, but Zackie Achmat remains firm

The NPA responds to statements made by activist and leader of #UniteBehind Zackie Achmat made in an interview on Wednesday.

Their way or the highway? 7 annoying habits many drivers are guilty of

Their way or the highway? 7 annoying habits many drivers are guilty of

Passengers often endure all sorts of irritations from drivers. Callers share their biggest gripes about folks behind the wheel.

[WATCH] Eusebius commends ANC's Carrim for his honesty about VAT reservations

[WATCH] Eusebius commends ANC's Carrim for his honesty about VAT reservations

ANC's Yunus Carim says an increase on VAT was not desirable and it is regressive.

Parole granted to former Commander Eugene de Kock

Parole granted to former Commander Eugene de Kock

The Midday Report - Where you won't miss a thing!

Former Vlakplaas Commander Should Be Granted Parole says Victim's Daughter

Former Vlakplaas Commander Should Be Granted Parole says Victim's Daughter

The daughter of one of the "Nelspruit Five" who was killed in 1992 visited Eugene De Kock in prison, says he should be granted parole

Popular articles
UK issues terror warning against SA after Brit couple abducted in KZN

UK issues terror warning against SA after Brit couple abducted in KZN

The British gov issued a travel advisory‚ warning of possible attacks when traveling to SA, after a UK couple was kidnapped.

Their way or the highway? 7 annoying habits many drivers are guilty of

Their way or the highway? 7 annoying habits many drivers are guilty of

Passengers often endure all sorts of irritations from drivers. Callers share their biggest gripes about folks behind the wheel.

[LISTEN] Gigaba deliberately misled the public - Zwelinzima Vavi

[LISTEN] Gigaba deliberately misled the public - Zwelinzima Vavi

Trade unions react to Malusi Gigaba's announcement of a one percentage point VAT increase for #Budget2018

Saps: Attackers spared 5 female cops in Ngcobo police shooting

Saps: Attackers spared 5 female cops in Ngcobo police shooting

E Cape Saps says they are investigating the murder of five police officers and one retired soldier at Ngcobo Police Station.

Missing Cape Town couple's vehicle found north of Durban

Missing Cape Town couple's vehicle found north of Durban

Hawks spokesperson says the couple has not yet been located and their names will not be released as yet.

How to make your first million

How to make your first million

Warren Ingram discusses his new book in which he shares practical ways for ordinary people to achieve financial freedom.