That is the tragic truth we are having to come to terms with after the shocking murder of Michaela Williams.
The 12-year-old Pelikan Park girl was stalked, raped and savagely murdered with a concrete block.
And the suspect is a known child rapist who in 2005 thought he had killed his victim when he stabbed her in the heart with scissors.
By the grace of God - it was a true miracle - the eight-year-old girl lived to tell the tale in court and helped convict and sentence the monster to 20 years in prison.
But justice was short-lived and by 2018, he was out on parole.
Did his time in prison rehabilitate him at all, or turn him into a better person?
Well, a year later and there he was, allegedly confessing to the heinous crime and leading police to bushes in Schaapkraal where Michaela’s body lay hidden.
Surprising? Not really, was it?
And the first person to say “I told you so” was Patricia Japhta, the mother of his first victim.
“Since he came out a year ago, I was in and out of their [Correctional Services parole] offices and warned them that something like this can happen,” she told the Daily Voice.
“How can you release a murderer and rapist?”
Patricia believes if the perpetrator had remained in jail, Michaela would be alive today.
And she says prison authorities now have the child’s blood on their hands.
It’s hard to disagree with her.
Ironically, the same day that Patricia spoke to us, we published a story of the arrest of a convicted drug dealer, who was also out on parole.
Cops were on the beat in Heideveld when, for no reason, the 26-year-old just started running, and suspiciously threw something in a neighbour’s house.
It turned out to be 20g of tik.
So it was back to the mang for him, after being released on parole last year.
Now, when convicts are regularly released only to commit the same crime months later, then it’s fair to say our prison system is just not working.
Correctional Services is failing to correct convicts’ criminal behaviour.
So why is this happening? Well, a few reasons:
- Correctional Services receives a budget of over R25 billion a year. Of that money, 78% goes towards incarceration and administration. Just 12% goes to rehabilitation, skills programmes and social integration.
- The reason for this skewed spending is that South African prisons are 37% over capacity. Designed to house 118 572 inmates, the prison population is 163 015, according to World Prison Brief.
- And the reason for the high prisoner count is the 44 500 awaiting-trial prisoners. Some argue that if those locked up for minor offences are granted free bail (not the violent crime and drug suspects) the head count and costs would be more manageable. Some also recommend that sentences of under two years be scrapped altogether - in favour of community service. Because how much rehabilitation work can be done in two years anyway?
- But the main reason bandiete can’t clean up their act in the tjoekie is the prison gangs - inside and outside jail. Often convicts come out of jail even more criminalised than when they went in, and they go back to their old ways and old circles.
Tackle the numbers gangs and there’s a better chance of real rehabilitation happening.