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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

97 of over 16 000 inmates released on special remission rearrested

The inmates including former president Jacob Zuma were released in terms of Cyril Ramaphosa’s special remission process.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has said at least 97 of the more than 16 000 inmates released last year as part of a special remission programme are in trouble with the law again.

The inmates, including former president Jacob Zuma, were released in terms of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s special remission process.


The details were revealed by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola in a written response to DA questions.

“Under the guise of reducing overcrowding in prisons, the process was used purely as a political favour to free Zuma, resulting in inmates who lack integration and rehabilitation being released on the streets,” DA shadow minister of Correctional Services Janho Engelbrecht said.

Engelbrecht said of the 97 criminals rearrested after their release, 20 were handcuffed for violent crimes, including robbery, robbery with aggravating circumstances, family violence and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

“A total of 41 of the criminals released re-offended within 20 days of being released. One criminal committed three counts of housebreaking and seven counts of theft within one day of being released, while 69 criminals committed theft and 37 counts of house break-ins were recorded.

“One re-offender was arrested for theft and being an illegal immigrant. It is unclear how the inmate was released without proper documentation or the intervention of Home Affairs. A total of 139 criminal acts which led to arrest were recorded,” Engelbrecht said.

ALSO READ: WATCH: ‘Ramaphosa believes the rule of law has been served’ in Zuma jail decision – Lamola


Engelbrecht claimed the criminals have been released without proper rehabilitation, integration or support, which, if provided, would have kept them off the streets and away from crime.

“With these figures only being the ones that have been caught so far, there is concern as to exactly how many of the 16 472 criminals released, have reoffended without consequence – given the SAPS’ poor rate of investigations and arrests.”

Zuma was released in August last year after returning to the Estcourt Correctional Centre for just two hours after being ordered by the court to complete his contempt of court sentence, for which he was previously released on medical parole.

The special remission process was announced in August 2023 and ended on 2 November 2023.

ALSO READ: ‘Mockery of the justice system’ – 5 reactions to Zuma’s prison release

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