Uyayitapa ntombazane le mibuzo, ungathi kukhona la oyitapa khona. [So many questions, lady! Where do they all come from?]
Hon Speaker, the granting of special remission of sentences, pardoning and many other forms of amnesty is a worldwide phenomenon or practice where heads of government or state undertake to commemorate special days in the history of their countries. Special remissions have been granted on four occasions since 1994.
The remissions were announced on Freedom Day to encourage the offenders to turn a negative past into a positive future and for them to turn their backs on crime and become better citizens. The remissions were granted in accordance with section 84(2)(j) of the Constitution of the Republic. This was done to achieve a few objectives. It was to provide the sentenced offenders a second opportunity to behave, repent and to become better and rehabilitated persons.
It was meant to reduce and relieve congestion and overcrowding in correctional facilities, which currently stand at 34% above capacity. Overcrowding adversely affects the ability of any correctional system to rehabilitate, train and secure offenders. The President granted six months special remission of sentence to all offenders, probationers and parolees. An additional 12 months special remission was granted to offenders who were not convicted of aggressive, firearm-related or sexual offences and drug- related crimes.
Those declared dangerous by the courts and who were still at large after escaping or absconding, and those who evaded the justice system following their release on bail pending appeal against their convictions or sentences, were excluded from this special remission.
I have not been formally briefed yet on how many of those released have reoffended. The Minister of Correctional Services is required to provide a status report to the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster and to the President 3 months after completion of the 10-week special remission process, which was completed on 6 July 2012. Such a report is due in October 2012.
The following preliminary information has, however, been provided to the Presidency. A total of 114 alleged reoffenders out of the 45 033 persons who were released during the 10-week process reoffended and were rearrested. They were rearrested for crimes ranging from theft to housebreaking, assault, drugs and rape. It is unfortunate that some of them failed to positively use the opportunity granted to them. Instead they went on to commit new crimes and caused untold pain to families and society.
However, there are also success stories. Fredoleen Isaacs, who was serving his sentence at St Albans Correctional Centre in Port Elizabeth, is now a manager of a pharmacy. [Applause.] Kassavan Naicker, who was released from the Pietermaritzburg Correctional Centre, is now his own boss, working as an electrician, a skill he learnt while incarcerated. [Applause.] Vumokwakhe Mkhize, also from Pietermaritzburg, now owns a panel-beating company, a skill also learnt from Correctional Services. Paul Evans from the Western Cape fruitfully used his time of incarceration to acquire a qualification in information technology through Unisa and is now employed at a company as an information technology, IT, specialist. [Applause.]
I appeal to society to assist particularly those who will fall on hard times. They need all of us to successfully reintegrate and permanently divert them from a life of crime. In this way we will be contributing immensely to the fight against crime in our country.
Hon Speaker, I must say that I have just given a few examples. In fact, there are more success stories than about the ones who did not succeed. I thank you, hon Speaker. [Applause.]