Home Opinion and Features Debate on Manqele’s release rages on

Debate on Manqele’s release rages on

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The Department of Correctional Services says Sindisiwe Manqele has earned her parole. However, the court of public opinion thinks otherwise.

Sindisiwe Manqele was found guilty of murdering hip-hop star Flabba in his Alexandra home. File picture

By Tshepiso Tshabalala

JOHANNESBURG – The Department of Correctional Services says Sindisiwe Manqele has earned her parole. However, the court of public opinion thinks otherwise.

Seven years ago, Manqele was convicted of murdering her then boyfriend and famous Skwatta Kamp rapper Nkululeko “Flabba” Habedi in his Alexandra home.

Manqele was then sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in 2015, the same year she stabbed the rapper to death.

She served the first half of that sentence at the Johannesburg Correctional Service Centre before her release this week.

Shortly after the department confirmed her release, members of the public took to social media to express their disappointment at the decision.

The public took the view that the country’s justice system favoured perpetrators over victims. Some comments from the public indicated that the ineffectiveness of the justice system played a role in the country’s murder rate.

Some on social media asserted that perpetrators would always assume they were above the law because the justice system would protect them under the guise of rehabilitation. For this reason, they committed atrocious acts, but then later told the parole board they were remorseful and therefore deserved to be granted parole.

In February this year, the SAPS reported that the national murder rate increased by 8.9% between October and December 2021.

The public said Manqele’s imprisonment should have been used to send out a strong message to other offenders, given the magnitude of the crime she committed.

Flabba’s friend and Skwatta Kamp member Lebo “Shugasmakx” Mothibe said he was still trying to process the news and was uncertain about how he felt or whether he had forgiven the woman convicted of his friend’s murder.

“As a group, we have not discussed the release with the family yet. At the moment, there is nothing I can say, because I got the news of her release the same way everyone else did. It is not as though I was told in advance,” said Mothibe.

The department said that, to understand how the parole process worked, the public had to first know what parole was and how it was structured.

It described parole as a manner of placement whereby an offender, subject to the completion of a minimum period of a sentence inside the correctional centre and subject to specific criteria being met, may be allowed to serve part of his or her sentence in the community.

The department indicated that offenders might be paroled in terms of section 73(4) of the Correctional Services Act. The section stipulates that an offender must serve his or her complete sentence. However, it also states that a person can serve part of the sentence in the system of community corrections.

The department’s national spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo, said that, even though the primary purpose of the correctional system was to enforce the sentences of the courts, which remained valid until they expired, this did not necessarily mean that a convict had to serve the entire sentence of imprisonment.

“There are two ways in which an offender can serve their sentence. The one way is for an offender to serve part of his or her sentence in the community corrections system (conditional placement). The other is correctional supervision. In both instances, the offender must serve a minimum period.

“Afterwards, an offender can serve the remainder of the sentence in the community corrections system, provided that the person is suitable for placement into community corrections,” said Nxumalo.

Furthermore, Nxumalo explained that an offender did not necessarily have to apply for parole. The case management committee would activate the process six months before the offender completed his or her minimum detention time.

“The (committee) compiles a report, which deals with several issues. The (committee) will then submit this report together with their recommendation to the parole board, who will schedule a meeting to consider the offender’s possible placement on parole or under correctional supervision,” he said.

“South Africa decided to place the victims of crime at the centre of the criminal justice system. This is where the restorative justice programme finds deeper expression.

“In line with that, the (department) introduced victim-offender dialogue in November 2012 to strengthen the department’s rehabilitation interventions geared towards changing the behaviour of offenders and placing the victims at the centre of the criminal justice system.

“Our specialists (social workers, psychologists and spiritual caregivers) do this to ensure that appropriate care is afforded, as this can be a sensitive, emotional and inconsolable engagement,” said Nxumalo.

Irrespective of what the parole process entails, and how the process justifies Manqele’s release, it seems prison bars are not the only thing that stand between her and her newly found freedom. The public still questioned Manqele’s release and voiced negative opinions of what they thought of the justice system.

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