EXPLAINER: Remission of sentence and who qualifies
Jacob Zuma will not return to prison after he was granted a remission of sentence on Friday
Jacob Zuma will not return to prison after he was granted a remission of sentence on Friday.
The former president reported to Estcourt prison and was released within 90 minutes after the effecting of a “remission process”.
The Constitutional Court in July dismissed Zuma’s application for leave to appeal a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling that he return to prison to complete his 15-month sentence. It said an appeal had “no reasonable prospects of success”.
Briefing the media on Friday, justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola said Zuma was among thousands of inmates who benefited from the process for non-violent offenders approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“He [Zuma] is one of the beneficiaries as a low-risk offender,” he said.
The release of inmates was accelerated to “alleviate” overcrowding in prisons after a fire broke out at Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Facility in Limpopo this week, Lamola added.
What is a remission of sentence and to whom is it granted?
Remissions of sentences were announced by Zuma on Freedom Day in 2012 and implemented on May 14.
In his speech at the time, the former president said he was exercising his mandate in terms of section 84 of the constitution, which gave him powers to award them to certain categories of offenders as part of celebrating or commemorating a special occasion.
He said he was granting the remissions in the spirit of Freedom Day.
About 14,651 offenders were released conditionally or unconditionally and an estimated 20,855 probationers and parolees were freed.
“Granting of special remissions is governed by placing safety first and promoting shared responsibility for the correction of offending behaviour, as well as for rehabilitation.”
A remission of sentence is granted to “low-risk” offenders, probationers, parolees and day parolees, irrespective of their crimes.
It excludes those sentenced for aggressive, sexual, firearm and drug-related offences, as well as escapees and absconders.
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