Upcoming amendements to the parole system will see more emphasis put on the victims of crime.
The victims and their families will receive counselling and will be consulted when the offender in their case applies for parole, if the proposed changes become law.
Speaking at an Imbizo at Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria on Monday, Acting Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Faith Muthambi tabled the revised draft parole system paper for discussion and input from 53 correctional supervision parole boards.
“Our emphasis in this revised paper is on the victim more than the perpetrator,” she said.
She said there had been criticism about the parole system, which was introduced into legislation in the Correctional Services Act of 1998.
Once a person is a crime victim, the department should work with the social development department to establish a counselling system, she said.
“The paper will look at certain gaps in the current parole system. For example, once a person is incarcerated, their victim only sees them again in court.
“But after conviction and sentencing, the victim moves on with their life but would have to confront their offender again when he applies for parole.
“We need to look at those issues and put a counselling system in place to make sure that when the time comes, the victims are ready.”
National director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams has established a task team to review the Victim’s Charter, which would be included in the draft paper.
“In terms of our integrated criminal justice strategy, issues of correction don’t remain the sole responsibility of the department.
“Any sector department, like social development, should track victims and look at their welfare as they were the ones violated.
“Once engagements with the relevant stakeholders have been concluded, the necessary amendments would be made and the proposed Bill would be tabled in parliament for approval.
“I agree that now is the time for a total re-examination of the South African approach to parole.
“Our parole system has undergone significant shifts over the past decades and also plays a significant role in the current overcrowding [in prisons] and fiscal crisis,” she added.