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

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
8.6
7.3

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