Each prisoner costs taxpayers R10,890 a month, but only R475 is spent on food
Each prisoner costs taxpayers R10,890 a month, says correctional services minister Ronald Lamola.
Put another way, each of the 141,000 inmates behind bars in the last financial year required the taxes of someone earning about R47,000 a month to maintain them.
About three-quarters of the cost of keeping a prisoner funds the salaries of warders and other correctional services staff.
About R475 a month is spent on food for each prisoner, according to Lamola's written reply to a parliamentary question from IFP MP Christian Msimang.
Lamola says he expects the average number of prisoners to increase by 20% to 170,000 in the 2021/22 financial year.
The calculations in Lamola's answer exclude the costs of keeping the 5,952 inmates in SA's two private prisons, run by G4S in Mangaung, Free State; and by the GEOgroup in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo.
The monthly cost of keeping prisoners there was R14,654 in 2021/21, and is expected to be R16,082 in 2021/22.
Apart from the cost of staff, the biggest operational budgets at correctional services in 2020/21 were R1.46bn for property payments (including electricity, water and sanitation); R1.16bn for the two private prisons; R1.07bn for property leases; and R805m for food.