Victims’ Participatory Rights in Parole Hearings: A South African Perspective

Published 25/03/2021
Type Article
Author(s) Francois Louw
Corresponding Authors

In South Africa, significant progress has been made in legislative and policy efforts to advance victim participation in the parole process. Victims now have a legal right to make representations at a Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (Parole Board) hearing in certain matters relating to parole placement decisions. This conceptual paper aims to discuss the circumstances in which crime victims may exercise their rights to information and participation in parole hearings. Any reference to a victim in South Africa includes a complainant or a relative of a deceased victim. In promoting a victim-centred approach to criminal justice, provision has been made in both section 75(4) of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998 and section 299A of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 for the involvement of victims in Parole Board hearings. In 2005, the South African Department of Correctional Services issued specific directives to facilitate and promote the involvement of complainants in Parole Board hearings. These directives were developed in support of the Victim Empowerment Programme of Government, which is based upon the concept of restorative justice. The stance of the Department of Correctional Services is that all parole considerations should include victim participation; however, this paper argues that practical challenges remain for both the Department of Correctional Services and the victims of crime. It proposes directions for future research as there is little to no research that has been conducted on the effects of the parole process on victims.