President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday announced that he had granted a “special remission of sentences” to prisoners and those out on parole – but those who committed sexual offences would not qualify.
While details were not provided during Ramaphosa’s address at a Day of Reconciliation event in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal, the president said: “The decision to grant the remissions of sentences are always carefully considered, taking into account the interest of the public and the administration of justice.”
“This decision of giving remission to those who are in prison and those on probation will be implemented in various phases, starting with special categories including women, children, the elderly, the youth, and inmates with disabilities,” he said.
However, he was adamant that prisoners who committed sexual crimes would not qualify.
“It must be emphasised that this remission of sentences excludes those who are sentenced for sexual offences, for violent, aggressive offences, as well as people who are declared dangerous criminals in terms of section 286(A) of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977.
“So those who have been sentenced for sexual offences, rape and murder of women, are not affected by this announcement that I am making,” he said.
He added that justice minister Ronald Lamola would provide details on how the process would work.
Lamola is scheduled to host a press conference at 2pm on Monday, but it is unclear whether this matter will be covered.
Ramaphosa said this was not the first time that such remissions had been granted, saying it was done at the time of former president Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994, on the first anniversary of SA’s freedom on April 29 1995, and on Mandela’s 80th birthday in 1998.
Similar announcements were also made by former president Thabo Mbeki in May 2005 and in celebration of the 18th birthday of SA’s democracy in April 2012.