The civil rights organisation AfriForum requested Ronald Lamola, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, in a letter today to make the attendance of and/or delivery of written submissions by crime victims or their next of kin at parole hearings more accessible for everyone. AfriForum also compiled a report on the rights that crime victims or their next of kin have in this regard.
The civil rights organisation became aware of various crime victims who are not properly involved in the parole hearings of their perpetrators. According to the Service charter for crime victims in South Africa, victims and their next of kin have certain rights in terms of parole hearings. These include that the SAPS, the prosecutor and the correctional officer must ensure that measures are in place to allow crime victims or their next of kin to make contributions at a criminal’s parole hearing.
The court must also inform the victims or their next of kin that they have the right to make submissions when a criminal is considered for parole, and also that they may attend the parole hearing if the criminal committed certain listed crimes (including murder and rape).
Victims who want to make submissions must inform the applicable parole board if they want to participate in the process. “However, AfriForum is aware of numerous cases where the notices that are posted by mail are not answered. There is no email address on the applicable government website and various attempts to phone the contact number published on the website came to nothing as the calls went unanswered,” says Natasha Venter, Manager of Campaigns at AfriForum.
Legalisation and regulations clearly explain the rights of victims and their next of kin. “Unfortunately, it seems that these rights are not respected by the Department – we only read of high-profile cases where crime victims are involved in the parole process. AfriForum therefore requested the Minister to make an email address available that are manned continually, as well as to ensure that the many crime victims in our country can participate in parole hearings if they choose to.”
Read the report here.