Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa approved the amnesty and remission of 14,647 offenders to commemorate Reconciliation Day.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said during a media conference in Pretoria on Monday afternoon that the process would begin immediately and could take up to nine months. This means that eligible offenders will be fully acquitted of their sentences in the coming months.
Lamola did make it clear, however, that only offenders who meet certain criteria will be released from their sentences.
So offenders who are guilty of sexual offenses, murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, high treason and terrorism or anyone sentenced to life in prison will not benefit from this process, Lamola explained.
One of those eligible for this is Kanya Cekeshe, who was convicted at the time of public violence and willful damage to property when he set fire to a police vehicle during the #FeesMustFall protests. Cekeshe is the only so-called #FeesMustFall activist still in custody and is expected to be released soon on parole.
According to Lamola, the release of sentences is not only peculiar to South Africa as countries such as Thailand, Ghana and Kenya use it as a policy tool to reduce the sentences of offenders who are considered rehabilitated.
“The reintegration of offenders back into society is a social responsibility. We urge society to reconcile with these individuals, ”Lamola said.