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

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Children in Prison in South Africa (Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative, 2012)

Report
03/10/2012

This report is an update to the situational analysis of children in prison in South Africa prepared by the Community Law Centre in 1997. The Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 (Child Justice Act), promulgated on 1 April 2010, introduced a markedly different child justice regime than that which was previously regulated by the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 and the common law. This development, along with various others which have emerged since 1997 (e.g. child justice jurisprudence and government’s renewed focus on children in conflict with the law), has changed the way in which South Africa’s courts and correctional system deal with children in conflict with the law. Accordingly, an updated analysis on children in prison became necessary.

Countries: 

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Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)

Organisation
03/10/2013

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is a growing African institution committed to deepening democracy, protecting human rights and enhancing good governance in the region. OSISA's vision is to promote and sustain the ideals, values, institutions and practices of open society, with the aim of establishing vibrant and tolerant southern African democracies in which people, free from material and other deprivation, understand their rights and responsibilities and participate actively in all spheres of life.

Countries: 
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Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative

Organisation
03/10/2013

The CSPRI, established in 2003, is a research and advocacy project focussing on prisons and places of confinement in the African region, with the aim of furthering constitutional and human rights imperatives within these settings.

Countries: 
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Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services

Organisation
03/10/2013

The object of the Judicial Inspectorate is to facilitate the inspection of correctional centres in order that the Inspecting Judge may report on the treatment of inmates in correctional centres and on conditions in correctional centres.

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Nicro

Organisation
03/10/2013

NICRO was first established in 1910 as the Prisoner’s Aid Association and has a rich history in human rights, prison and criminal justice reform. More than 100 years later, NICRO has changed its name and image, pioneered diversion and non-custodial sentencing in South Africa, helped launch probation services and community services and otherwise made a significant contribution to the welfare of all South Africans.

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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