Serial offender Hlongwane's parole to be revoked

Criminal law expert William Booth said a complete overhaul of the parole system was needed

24 May 2022 - 07:18
By Nomazima Nkosi and Penwell Dlamini
The late Bontle Mashiyane's grandmother and family members grieving.
Image: Mandla Khoza The late Bontle Mashiyane's grandmother and family members grieving.

The department of correctional services says it will revoke serial offender Collen Hlongwane’s parole.

Hlongwane was released twice on parole – for attempted murder he committed in 2008 and a 2013 murder.

He appeared in the KaBokweni magistrate’s court on Monday in connection with Bontle Zethu Ditebogo Mashiyane’s murder in Mganduzweni, near Hazyview, Mpumalanga.

Hlongwane appeared together with his girlfriend Ntombikayise Ngwenya, 40, and Thapelo Surprise Ngomane, 25.

Ngwenya told police during her arrest that she had killed four other children, including her nieces – Silindile, 7, and Ntotoko Sifunda, 6, in April 2019.

Bontle’s disappearance on April 30 caused public outrage with Sowetan revealing that Hlongwane had a history of violent behaviour.

This also put the country’s parole system under sharp scrutiny.

“These developments [Bontle’s murder] will affect the parole status of the parolee and stipulated processes will be followed in terms of revoking the parole placement,” spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo told Sowetan on Monday.

He said “the public has been calling for a review of our parole system and we have listened to such calls”.

“The current parole system, which was introduced in 2004 [based on a model developed in 1997 and legislated in 1998], may require some restructuring and in need of a review.  Such a review is currently under way.”

He said a community corrections stakeholder summit which took place in March resulted in an action plan focusing on elements related to absconder management, expansion of economic opportunities, restorative justice approaches as well as community initiatives. 

Nxumalo said for the past three years, the department has recorded a 99% success rate for parolees and probationers complying with conditions of release.

Criminal law expert William Booth said a complete overhaul of the parole system was needed because there was a lot of confusion, particularly within communities about who was eligible for early release.

He said when parole is revoked, you don’t start a new sentence but continue during the term when parole was granted.

Booth said that a repeat and violent offender such as Hlongwane should not have been granted parole after being convicted of murder.

“Someone like that, I would not release. If he’s arrested for a whole lot of offences, he’s shown a tendency to break his parole conditions and commit worse crimes. He’s not be released on parole. ... maybe we do need a complete overhaul parole system,” he said.

Criminal lawyer Nthabiseng Dubazana said parole boards did not look at previous convictions but rather the time spent in prison and how you behaved.

Dubazana said that correctional services or parole boards did not have access to SAP69 record which states how many crimes one has been convicted of and if there are any pending cases.

“When a person is being considered, they should look if a person even qualifies if his/her previous conditions are similar.

“Parole board works with limited scope of information. SAPS need to start working with correctional services,” Dubazana said.

DA MP Janho Engelbrecht said one of the best ways to prevent correctional services from releasing unrehabilitated offenders is to change the composition of the parole board from its current form.