The African National Congress (ANC) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to grant special remission of sentence to certain categories of criminal offenders.
“Today’s announcement is consistent with the vision of the Freedom Charter, which states, among other things: ‘Imprisonment shall be only for serious crimes against the people, and shall aim at re-education, not vengeance’,” national spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement on Monday.
This comes after Ramaphosa announced at the Day of Reconciliation Celebrations in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal that certain SA prisoners will receive special reduced prison sentences as the country celebrates 25 years of democracy.
The move according to the President was part of “established international practice” and would grant special remission of sentence to “sentenced offenders, probationers and parolees”.
Among those who will benefit from this decision is #FeesMust Fall activist, Kanya Cekeshe and Abathembu King, Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo. This was confirmed by Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola on Monday.
Lamola at his own briefing said 14,647 inmates were eligible for special remissions.
The ANC believed the decision must build a society that offers its citizens a second chance and empowers them to contribute towards nation-building.
The political party further agrees with sentiments shared by Lamola that “Our correctional facilities should… not only be seen as buildings to keep offenders away from society, but also as correctional centres that rehabilitate offenders through programmes in order to reintegrate them back into their communities as law abiding and responsible citizens”.
The special remission however does not extend to any sentenced offender, probationer, parolee or day parolee who is serving for among others: sexual offences; murder/attempted murder; armed robbery; sentenced to life imprisonment; child abuse, to name a few.
“By not extending this special remission to these categories, assists the nation to send a clear message to perpetrators of gender-based violence, child abuse and other categories of serious crimes, that our society will never tolerate these crimes.
“It underlines our commitment to create safer and secure communities. In this regard, we commend the ANC government for being able to strike a delicate balance between forgiveness and justice,” Mabe explained.
Cekeshe’s attorney told News24 on Monday that based on the pronouncement, they would urgently apply for his parole.
“We’re meeting with the parole team on Tuesday but we must still apply through the process which can take up to three months. We’re not clear on whether he will be home for Christmas. This is dependent on when the last meeting for the parole board for this year will be held,” Wikus Steyl told News24.