10 things to know about South African Correctional Centres

1. There are 243 correctional centres in South Africa, according to Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) 2013/14 annual report.

2. In the late 1990s the South African government ‘demilitarised’ the prison system. Prisons were now called correctional centres and rehabilitation services were introduced, to assist with the reintegration of offenders into communities as law-abiding citizens.

3. Speaking before his budget vote speech this week, Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Michael Masutha, said the total prison population is currently at 159,241. Of these, more than 40,000 are remand or awaiting trial detainees. This means that their trials have not concluded, and that they have yet to be found guilty of the crime with which they have been charged. In its annual report for 2013/2014, the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) gave the number of remand detainees as 44,236.


Source JCIS annual report 2013/14.

4. The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) is an independent body tasked with monitoring correctional centres. It investigates and scrutinises the conditions and treatment of inmates.

5. JICS is headed by the newly-appointed Inspecting Judge, Justice Lewis Skweyiya. According to its web site, the Inspecting Judge has appointed a number of full-time inspectors who conduct annual and monthly independent inspections at various prisons.

6. In their annual report 2013/2014 DCS stated that overcrowding levels were at 29.70%. According to EWN this week, Minister Masutha said that South African prisons have enough bed space for only about 120,000 out of 159,241 inmates.

7. Just Detention International – South Africa highlighted in its report ‘In Their Boots’ that the ratios of warders-to-inmates are worrying: “In the evenings at Johannesburg ‘Sun City’ Prison between four and 14 warders have to guard sections holding approximately 1 300 inmates”.

To learn more about conditions of overcrowding in South African prisons, please read an article – published in the Saturday Star on December 28, 2011 – written by Wits Justice Project (WJP) senior journalist, Carolyn Raphaely: How can we escape prison overcrowding?

8. According to a NICRO report entitled The State of South African Prisons report 2014, children under the age of 18 are not permitted to be held in prisons, and instead are held in secure care centres. There are 13 such centres in South Africa.

9. The JICS annual report for 2013/2014 states that there are 18 227 children (under the ages of 18) and juveniles (18 to 25 years old) in remand detention and together are about 41% of the remand population.  Because of their age, JICS categorises them as a vulnerable group.

10. South Africa has two privately run prisons, the British security company G4S runs Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein and the American GEO Group, Inc. manages Kuthama Sinthumule Correctional Centre in Makhado.

WJP senior journalist Ruth Hopkins has written several articles about shocking allegations of human rights violations that took place at Mangaung Correctional Centre: Mangaung prison is a private hell on 25 October 2013.

And most recently:

G4S abuses in South African prison still ignored May 1, 2015.



JCIS annual report 2013/2014

Department of Correctional Services annual report 2013/2014

The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services

In their boots – Just Detention International – South Africa

‘Prison overcrowding due to remand detainees’ – EWN





About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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