Overcrowding in South African prisons will remain a reality for a while as the number of awaiting trial detainees continues to increase in provinces such as the Western Cape, where there has been significant growth in the number of people arrested for violent crimes, Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said on Thursday.
“As of April 2018 this year, correctional services had 163 140 inmates in its 243 correctional facilities, comprising of 45 294 remand detainees and 117 820 sentenced offenders. This is way above the 119 000 bed capacity that we currently have,” Masutha told journalists at a briefing ahead of his budget vote speech in Parliament.
Masutha said in the last three to six months, correctional centres in the Western Cape has seen a “huge influx of remandees in the order of 4 000”.
“That’s not going to assist us in addressing an already critical situation of overcrowding,” he said.
“Of course, we can’t send suspects of especially serious and violent crimes back home, we have to find accommodation for them in our already overcrowded facilities. We do not have a choice.”