EDITORIAL | SA’s parole system in desperate need of rehabilitation
Possible release of killers shocks victims’ families, who are realising the reassurance of life sentences does not last
In May, SA celebrated when convicted rapist Sello Abram Mapunya, who raped and robbed 56 women in Tshwane over a five-year period, was jailed for no fewer than 1,088 years. It felt like a victory: finally, a man who ruined too many lives will be locked away from society forever.
But that forever is not really forever, as several families whose loved ones were victims of horrific crimes recently discovered. Leigh Visser’s brother Warren was killed in the Sizzler’s massacre in Cape Town in 2003. He was 23 years old at the time and was bound, had his throat slit, was shot and then set alight. Eight other men were killed in this unthinkable crime about which one thought dominates: throw away the key. His killer, Adam Woest, got nine life sentences. Yet Visser has been informed by the department of correctional services that he now qualifies for parole.
Visser, who now lives in Canada, was so traumatised by her brother’s death that she only recently told her husband about it. The possibility of Woest being released on parole has also spurred her into speaking about it publicly and petitioning President Cyril Ramaphosa. “We never fathomed this was possible. When you hear nine life sentences you don’t imagine them coming out. It’s insane,” she told Sunday Times Daily...