Lamola promises sweeping reforms to prevent another parole 'tragedy'

04 March 2020 - 17:27 By ERNEST MABUZA

Parole boards across the country must be sensitive to the outcry around gender-based violence and crime in general, justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola said on Wednesday.

The department of correctional services also needs to review the various rehabilitation programmes that parolees undergo to equip them with skills to help them to detest their previous life of crime.

Lamola said this at a media briefing at Goodwood Correctional Services in Cape Town on the effectiveness of the parole system.

The briefing follows a public outcry after revelations that two Western Cape children who were killed recently - Tazne van Wyk and Reagan Gertse - were allegedly killed by men who were out on parole.

Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola on Wednesday promised widespread reforms to the country's parole system.
Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola on Wednesday promised widespread reforms to the country's parole system.
Image: Gallo Images/Sowetan/ Kabelo Mokoena

Lamola said in the cases of Van Wyk and Gertse, the department has been found wanting on its mandate to reintroduce individuals who had been in prison to the public after rehabilitation from their offending behaviour. 

"The loss of one life is too many, but two is a tragedy we may never find the lexicon to describe," he said. 

Lamola said the department needed to have tools in place to enable it to predict with certainty whether people in the correctional system were equipped to re-engage with society.

He said the police had undertaken to enhance the view of parole board members by ensuring that before a decision is taken on whether an individual should be granted parole, social workers' and psychiatrists' reports - which assess the impact of the crime committed on the victim - are placed before the board for consideration.

“This co-management process is critical for us to ensure that the criminal justice system is integrated at the level of paroles.”

Lamola said there was a need for robust, transparent and consistent practices for managing consequences of noncompliance.

He said the criminal justice system had the means to ensure that the murderers of Van Wyk and Gertse never walked out of jail again.

“In terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, individuals can be declared dangerous criminals and therefore be given an indefinite sentence.”


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