Correctional services say that 2280 prisoners have been paroled in the last 30 days while they are preparing to ramp up releases.
Correctional Services Spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo said that the drive to release 19,000 prisoners over the coming month is well underway.
2280 prisoners paroled
In an interview with Times Live, Nxumalo claimed that none of the released prisoners have reoffended.
In May President Cyril Ramaphosa announced government's intention to release 19,000 prisoners to alleviate overcrowding, thereby improving standards of hygiene in South African prisons.
The proposal has sparked fears of a crimewave as prisoners are released into a country in the grips of a national lockdown inhibiting the operation of the informal economy that helps support vast numbers of South Africans.
Conversely, there is a suggestion that the move is a nominal gesture that will do little to alleviate overcrowding in South African prisons, most of which currently house far more prisoners that their official capacity allows.
The move also does not address the issues created by the logjam of court cases which sees some awaiting trial prisoners held in correctional facilities for years.
Kwazulu-Natal has seen the most prisoners released with 586 prisoners paroled from the province's 15 correctional facilities. A further 477 prisoners were released in the Western Cape which is home to the infamously crowded and problematic Pollsmoor prison.
Release of prisoners by province
Eastern Cape — 195;
- Gauteng — 374;[*]KwaZulu-Natal — 586;[*]Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West — 273;[*]Free State and Northern Cape — 375; and[*]Western Cape — 477.
Nxumalo said that the department of corrections was hard at work to ensure they meet the target for releases while not compromising the safety of the wider community.
"Placement of benefiting sentenced offenders commenced on 20 May 2020, and as on 10 June 2020, 2,280 offenders have been placed out.
"The rate of cases considered is expected to increase in the coming weeks," said Nxumalo.Times Live
Correctional services to ramp up releases
Nxumalo said that they hoped to reach the target figure of 19,000 releases by 17 July.
"The project is scheduled to run over a 10-week period with the placement of qualifying offenders expected to commence from week two to week 10, which is from 20 May 2020 to 17 July 2020.
"The schedule provides for placement of qualifying offenders in controllable groups and that vulnerable groups are prioritised.
"The number of placements per week has been gradually increasing from week two, and it is expected that more placement will be achieved during the remaining period, which is more than five weeks.
"The department is working tirelessly to ensure the target date is met while ensuring that the consideration, victim participation and offering of programmes to qualifying offenders are not compromised," he said.