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.
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.
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.