Correctional Services Acting National Commissioner Zach Modise says the Department has a very important role to play in ensuring that victims of crime and the public have unhindered access to justice and corrections.
Acting National Commissioner Modise said today after studying a progress report on the execution of a R10million video conferencing system to be used to connect victims of crime to South Africa’s 53 Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (CSPB) offices, to allow them to have a say in parole hearings for offenders.
Mr. Modise said in terms of Section 299A of the Criminal Procedure Act victims or their relatives have a right “to make representations in certain matters with regard to placements on parole” of offenders serving terms of incarceration for among others murder, rape, robbery, sexual assault, kidnapping, etc. “It is imperative that victims be prepared, and be involved, when the perpetrators are being considered for placement on parole, in line with the provision of the Correctional Services Act and the Criminal Procedure Act. We call on victims to participate in the processes so that they are not surprised when they see the perpetrators on the streets. We can’t talk about perpetrators without talking about the victims. Victims meeting with the perpetrators are very critical and an integral part of restorative justice and of making corrections a real societal responsibility. Building on this, the department’s overall development objective is to contribute in building safe and peaceful communities by reducing crime and providing more effective, multi-sectoral and coordinated support to victims of crime,” Modise said.
Earlier this month, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Advocate Michael Masutha announced the rollout of the video-conferencing system for Correctional Supervision and Parole Boards (CSPB). Delivering his Budget Speech in Parliament on the 16th of July 2014, Minister Masutha said: “In November 2014, we expect to launch a video-conferencing system in all 53 Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (CSPB) offices. This innovation is intended to help reduce the barriers of participation in parole hearings, including physical distance and language barriers to our efforts of prioritising victims in offender parole hearings. Although phenomenal progress was made since 2009 in mobilising victims to participate in parole hearings of the CSPB, from just 108 to 1,125 cases per year, this still represents less than 5% of hearings that result in parole placements of offenders that roughly reaches 25,000. With this video conferencing capacity, built with funding from the Criminal Asset Recovery Account (CARA), victims may go to their nearest CSPB offices and be linked to the actual parole board hearings.”
Acting National Commissioner Zach Modise said “parole boards collectively consider about 43 000 submissions and motivations for parole placements each year, which means each one of the 53 parole boards has to consider and process an average of four (4) submissions each working day of the year.” Mr Modise said there are many instances where the victims are difficult to find, refuse to participate or reject the notion of parole placement of perpetrators. He promised to work closely with the South African Police Services as well as the Justice and Constitutional Development Department to ensure improved victim participation across the criminal justice value chain.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS