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Contributor(s)Derrick Thulani & Sasha Gear (Just Detention International)

The system organisation

Organisation of the penitentiary system

The Ministry of Justice is responsible through the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) for the correctional centres and the incarceration of remand detainees held in its facilities.

Two correctional centres are run by a public-private partnership (PPP): Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre is run by the American private corrections’ company GEO Group, Mangaung Correctional Centre is run by the British security company G4S.

In 2013, the government had to take over Mangaung prison due to a deterioration of security and prison conditions. The DCS handed back control to G4S in August 2014.

Prison facilities are classified according to four types of security levels:

  • super-maximum
  • maximum
  • medium
  • minimum

Inmates are separated according to their escape probability risk and the time they serve in prison. People serving longer than twenty years are held in the maximum facility for five years before being considered for reclassification. Other inmates can be considered for reclassification after a 6-months period.

According to an answer by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services to a parliamentary question, as at 23 June 2017, the annual cost of incarceration during 2017/2018 per prisoner was estimated at R133,805.

To find out more about the visiting system in South African prisons, read our testimonial, written by Derrick Thulani, founder of the non-profit organization Zonk’izizwe Odds Development (ZOD).