South Africa

CountrySouth Africa
Ministry responsible
Ministry of Correctional Services
Prison administration
Department of Correctional Services
Contact address
Private Bag X136, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Telephone
+27 12 307 2249 or 307 2274 or 307 2248
Fax
+27 12 307 2000 or 325 4824 or 321 2460
Website
Head of prison administration (and title)
Zach Modise
National Commissioner
Prison population total (including pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners)
161 984
at 31.3.2016 (national prison administration)
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
291
based on an estimated national population of 55.58 million at end of March 2016 (from Statistics South Africa figures)
Pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners (percentage of prison population)
27.9%
(31.3.2016)
Female prisoners (percentage of prison population)
2.6%
(31.3.2016)
Juveniles / minors / young prisoners incl. definition (percentage of prison population)
0.2%
(31.3.2014 - children)
Foreign prisoners (percentage of prison population)
6.3%
(31.3.2015)
Number of establishments / institutions
232
(31.3.2016 - active correctional centres; there are 243 in all.)
Official capacity of prison system
120 000
(31.3.2015)
Occupancy level (based on official capacity)
132.7%
(31.3.2015)
Prison population trend
(year, prison population total, prison population rate)
2000 171,462 394
2002 178,998 396
2004 187,640 403
2006 150,302 318
2008 165,840 342
2010 163,312 328
2012 158,165 310
2014 154,648 288
2000 171,462 394
2002 178,998 396
2004 187,640 403
2006 150,302 318
2008 165,840 342
2010 163,312 328
2012 158,165 310
2014 154,648 288

Pages

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Research report on remand detention in South Africa: an overview of the current law and proposals for reform (Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative, 2011)

Report
03/10/2011

This research report provides an overview of the necessary research to develop possible solutions for limiting the amount of time remand detainees spend in custody. The report discusses, firstly, the bail provisions in the Criminal Procedure Act with regard to the right to liberty and in the broader constitutional notion of proportionality. Second, case law from regional and international bodies dealing with pre-trial release is explored, and third, detention time limits and automatic bail review proceedings are discussed. Fourth, the conceptual distinction between fair trial rights and liberty interests and the South African courts’ treatment of “undue delay” cases is described. The report concludes with the recommendation that a constitutional challenge, based on the Criminal Procedure Act’s failure to adequately protect the accused’s right to liberty, be brought on behalf of South Africa’s remand detainees. Such a challenge would be based on the right to liberty and argue that without custody time limits and a regular, automatic review of bail decisions, the law in relation to bail, as it currently stands, is unconstitutional.

Countries: 

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Promoting Pre-trial Justice in Africa

Organisation
03/10/2013

Promoting Pre-trial Justice in Africa (PPJA) aims to collect and organise information on pre-trial justice in Africa and make this available and accessible to a broad audience of stakeholders in a manner that can inform decision-making and improve practice, thereby promoting pre-trial justice in Africa.

Countries: 
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South Africa Human Rights Commission

Organisation
03/10/2013

The South African Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

Countries: 

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Pre-trial/remand prison population: trend

The table below gives an indication of the recent trend in the pre-trial/remand prison population. The final row shows the latest figures available.

It consists of the number of pre-trial/remand prisoners in the prison population on a single date in the year (or the annual average) and the percentage of the total prison population that pre-trial/remand prisoners constituted on that day.  

The final column shows the pre-trial/remand population rate per 100,000 of the national population. 

                                                 SOUTH AFRICA

Year

Number in
pre-trial/remand
imprisonment

Percentage
of total
prison population

Pre-trial/remand
population rate
(per 100,000 of
national population)

2000
2005
2010

55,558
46,327
47,899

33.4%
29.4%
29.9%

127
97
93

2016

45,257

27.9%

81

It should be noted that the number of pre-trial/remand prisoners fluctuates from day to day, month to month and year to year. Consequently the above figures give an indication of the trend but the picture is inevitably incomplete.

The pre-trial/remand population rate is calculated on the basis of the national population total. All national population figures are inevitably estimates but the estimates used in the World Prison Brief are based on official national figures, United Nations figures or figures from other recognised international authorities.

Female prison population: trend

The table below gives an indication of the trend in the female prison population. The final row shows the latest figures available.

It consists of the number of female prisoners in the prison population on a single date in the year (or the annual average) and the percentage of the total prison population that female prisoners constituted on that day. 

The final column shows the female prison population rate per 100,000 of the national population.

                                                  SOUTH AFRICA

Year

Number of
female
prisoners

Percentage
of total
prison population

Female prison
population rate
(per 100,000 of
national population)

2000
2005
2010

3,966
4,072
3,694

2.5%
2.2%
2.2%

9.2
8.7
7.4

2016

4,193

2.6%

7.5

The number of female prisoners fluctuates and so the above figures give an indication of the trend but the picture is inevitably incomplete.

The female prison population rate is calculated on the basis of the national population total. All national population figures are inevitably estimates but the estimates used in the World Prison Brief are based on official national figures, United Nations figures or figures from other recognised international authorities.

(If the rate were calculated on the basis of the number of females in the national population it would of course be approximately double the figure in the final column).

Prison population total
Prison population rate