The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has over the years been trying to mitigate against overcrowding, which is one of the challenges encountered mostly in remand detention correctional centres. Remand Detention is the first point of entry for arrested individuals being brought into DCS correctional facilities. Subsequently, these individuals (remand detainees) are housed in correctional centres while awaiting trial until they are sentenced or acquitted by the courts.
The Remand Detention Branch embarked on two consultative sessions for all six DCS regions, during which Heads of Correctional Centres (HCCs) deliberated on strategies to reduce overcrowding in correctional facilities amongst other challenges. The first session, which took place on 12 November 2021, was attended by HCCs from Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State/Northern Cape regions, at Pollsmoor Management Area, Western Cape region. The second and last session was held on 19 November 2021, at Durban Management Area, in the KwaZulu-Natal region, for HCCs from Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal regions.
The Correctional Services Act (Act No.111 of 1998), Section 49(G), stipulates that the detention of remand detainees should not exceed a period of two years. However, due to other processes, which involve the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Police Service, there are some remand detainees within correctional centres who have been in remand detention for more than two years, thus contributing to overcrowding. Furthermore, the Act directs that any remand detainee, whose detention will exceed two years, must be referred to the relevant court by the HCC, to determine further detention or release under conditions appropriate to the case.
Addressing the session, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Remand Detention, Moeketsi Mashibini encouraged HCCs to implement Section 63A of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977), also known as the Bail Protocol. The Bail Protocol is an agreement between members of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster, which outlines their responsibilities in order to ensure effective implementation of the Act. Amongst other objectives, the Act seeks to reduce the number of remand detainees incarcerated and thereby assist in alleviating the challenges relating to overcrowding. He also advised HCCs to strengthen partnerships and relations with magistrate’s courts in their vicinities, to engage and follow-up with them on outstanding trials, and ensure that there is an effective implementation and application of the Bail Protocol.
In-line with the Bail Protocol, Director: Remand Administration and Case Flow Management, Jabulisile Sejoe gave a synopsis on the progress made by regions and applauded them for submitting bail review applications for their remand detainees to the courts. These applications saw some remand detainees being sentenced, while others were released, reducing the number of inmates incarcerated. Sejoe further urged HCCs to continue submitting the bail review applications, as they could possibly have a significant impact on the reduction of overcrowding.