On Monday, the Western Cape High Court declared that the conditions at the remand detention facility at Pollsmoor Prison are unconstitutional.
The courts ruled that rampant overcrowding and “horrendous” conditions at the centre for awaiting-trial detainees have to be tackled, following a legal application by lobby groups.
Lobby groups argued that detainees awaiting-trial are routinely denied basic amenities to which they are entitled by law.
The National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) says the finding is a significant ruling, but it is nothing without practical steps.
Nicro CEO Soraya Solomon says that there are solutions and resources available to take action and improve prison conditions.
We've been speaking for too long, we've got to take action.— Soraya Solomon, Nicro CEO
Judge Vincent Saldanha gave government two weeks to indicate why it cannot reduce the number of detainees to 120% of the approved capacity - resulting in the release of 2 500 detainees.
However, Solomon warns against the releasing of detainees without making legal and social considerations.
She says if detainees are released, they must be put into programmes run by organisations such as Nicro in order to help them reintegrate into communities.
The detainees must be released into NGOs that can be the safety net. What is the message we are sending if we just release them back into the communities?— Soraya Solomon, Nicro CEO
Solomon suggests electronic tagging as an option for the offenders, to address safety and care concerns.
Take a listen to Nicro's proposals: