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Nine government officials have been arrested for allegedly illegally releasing 36 female parolees over a period of more than a year.

This was announced by the police‚ the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Correctional Services in Pretoria on Monday.

“The foreign parolees‚ most of whom were drug smugglers or drug mules‚ had to be released and deported to their country of origin through Lindela deportation centre. Instead they were sent directly to the Johannesburg Department of Home Affairs regional office for an unprocedural and illegal early release‚” they said in a joint statement.

Family or friends of the parolees allegedly paid bribes into the bank accounts of Home Affairs or Correctional Services officials.

“At times‚ the officials would demand bribes of the amount of R3[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]000 for those from African countries and R6[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]000 for those from outside Africa‚” Cele said.

Correctional Services officials also allegedly falsified documents which enabled Home Affairs officials to allegedly create false release documents to help inmates flee from or remain in South Africa.

Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“They were given documents to either exit the country voluntarily without them being recorded as having been deported‚ and having been deported on the basis of convictions and serving crimes. Or‚ at worse‚ they were issued with documents to stay in the country.”

Some of the parolees have since left South Africa‚ but six have been rearrested. They include three Guyana nationals arrested for drug-related offences‚ one Zambian imprisoned for drugs and two Zimbabweans for theft.[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“It emerged that these six had no intention of leaving South Africa‚” Cele said.

The other illegally released parolees included women from Congo‚ Nigeria‚ Ghana‚ Mozambique and Lesotho. The police’s crime intelligence started investigating the alleged corruption in mid-2016.

The nine government officials were arrested during a raid on Friday morning. One suspect remains at large and another died in a car crash last month. The nine will appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

The police initially identified 26 suspects before it was whittled down to 11.

National police commissioner General Khehla Sitole:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“[Another][tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]15 are not yet fully connected to the cases‚ but we are still investigating to see if we will not bring them closer so that we are able to link them to those particular crimes.”

Justice minister Michael Masutha said five suspects were female officials from Correctional Services based at the Johannesburg’s Medium B prison in Naturena‚ popularly known as “Sun City”. Three of the officials were previously expelled and two were facing disciplinary action.

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