DA blasts Cyril Ramaphosa for saying prisoners should do 'hard labour'

03 December 2019 - 10:59 By Unathi Nkanjeni
President Cyril Ramaphosa said people convicted of crimes against women and children 'should remain behind bars for life and under the harshest conditions'.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said people convicted of crimes against women and children 'should remain behind bars for life and under the harshest conditions'.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

The DA has blasted President Cyril Ramaphosa for suggesting that prisoners should do “hard labour” instead of going to jail and “enjoying life there”.

On Sunday Ramaphosa told journalists and crowds in Limpopo, when he visited the family of murdered Capricorn TVET college student Precious Ramabulana, that his government would work to change the justice system and make prison “less enjoyable” for inmates, adding that those who were convicted of crimes against women and children should remain behind bars for life and “under the harshest conditions”.

“They should not be in jail enjoying life there. They should be subjected to the harshest labour in prison. This is because what they are doing to society is indescribable.”

In a statement, the DA's Glynnis Breytenbach said Ramaphosa's suggestion was unconstitutional and “cheap talk”.

She said Ramaphosa's remarks were a cause for concern and similar to those made by justice minister Ronald Lamola, who suggested that the cabinet would discuss the return of the death sentence and later made “outrageous suggestions” regarding bail for sex offenders.

“These types of statements are unfortunate, emotional and, coming from the president of a constitutional democracy, frankly deeply disappointing.

“It is cheap talk, speaking to placate the general population, but which can never be delivered. The tragedy which befell Precious Ramabulana happens all too often in SA, and now, almost weekly,” said the shadow minister of justice.

Breytenbach said fighting gender-based violence required a multi-faceted approach to begin to address this serious problem.

“This will, unfortunately, require a much more comprehensive approach than the frankly unconstitutional suggestions offered by President Ramaphosa.

“There is no hope of rehabilitation for offenders of any nature, and increasing sentences and then throwing away the key is no solution. To suggest that hard labour or a death sentence will solve the problem is to bury one’s head in the sand,” she said.

Precious's murder case

Ramabulana was found in her rented room at ga-Joel Section in Mokomene in Limpopo last week after being stabbed 52 times

TimesLIVE reported that a 28-year-old man was arrested for her murder at his parents’ home in Nyakelang village, Botlokwa, on Thursday.

According to Ramabulana’s family, he was found in possession of her cellphone, bloodstained clothes and a sharp object.


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