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126 prisoners released due to Covid-19 rearrested - some for murder

13 May 2021 9:09 AM

13 989 prisoners were released on special Covid-19 parole. 126 are back in prison for serious crimes, says Singabakho Nxumalo.

Listeners were voicing concern, some were truly fearful when we first reported on the intention to release thousands of inmates to ease the prison population while the country was in the grips of Covid-19.

Dreadful anecdotes abound of offenders released on bail or early parole, and how some are quickly back behind bars after committing heinous crimes.

Despite public appeals, it remained a fact that some prison populations were at twice their maximum, and President Cyril Ramaphosa rubberstamped the release of some non-violent offenders.

Copyright: gioiak2 /123rf

Click here for all our Covid-19-related articles in one place.


On Wednesday, the Deputy Minister of Correctional Services and his top team of managers briefed the portfolio committee on correctional services on the progress made, and how they have been coping through the pandemic.

Refilwe Moloto interviewed Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo.

Highlights of the briefing:

  • The Department initially proposed the release of 19 000 but only 17 922 qualified.

  • Of those who qualified, some reoffended, voiding eligibility. In the end, 13 989 were released on special parole.

  • Of those released, 126 have been rearrested for crimes including murder, grievous bodily harm, robbery, housebreaking, and assault. 23 of the reoffences occurred in the Western Cape.


RELATED: 'Convicted prisoners must be prioritised for vaccination. Some must be released'


Ideally, you want 0% of them reoffending but unfortunately, we have 0.9%... We continue to monitor all of them [those released on special Covid-19 parole] …

Singabakho Nxumalo, spokesperson - Department of Correctional Services

Murder, rape… those people weren’t considered… only those with non-violent offenses were considered… if they served a minimum required time…

Singabakho Nxumalo, spokesperson - Department of Correctional Services

There is a review [of parole boards] underway… We have to mobilise communities, so they understand how parole works…

Singabakho Nxumalo, spokesperson - Department of Correctional Services

Those [prisoners] who are 60 and above will be vaccinated during Phase Two…

Singabakho Nxumalo, spokesperson - Department of Correctional Services

Listen to the interview in the audio below.




13 May 2021 9:09 AM

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