Ministry of Correctional Services
Department of Correctional Services
Private Bag X136, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
+27 012 307 2000
|Head of prison administration (and title)|| |
|Prison population total (including pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners)|| |
at 1.4.2020 (national prison administration)
|Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)|| |
based on an estimated national population of 59.57 million at April 2020 (from Statistics South Africa figures)
|Pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners (percentage of prison population)|| |
|Female prisoners (percentage of prison population)|| |
|Juveniles / minors / young prisoners incl. definition (percentage of prison population)|| |
(31.3.2019 - children)
|Foreign prisoners (percentage of prison population)|| |
|Number of establishments / institutions|| |
(2019 - another 8 establishments are out of use)
|Official capacity of prison system|| |
|Occupancy level (based on official capacity)|| |
|Prison population trend|
(year, prison population total, prison population rate)
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.
Promoting Pre-trial Justice in Africa (PPJA) aims to collect and organise information on pre-trial justice in Africa and make this available and accessible to a broad audience of stakeholders in a manner that can inform decision-making and improve practice, thereby promoting pre-trial justice in Africa.
The South African Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.
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.
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.
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 trend up to 2000
The figures below give an indication of the prison population trend in the years up to 2000. They supplement the more recent figures that are shown at the foot of the Overview page and in the graphs below.
Prison population rate