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Decolonising prisons in South Africa The need for effective bail affordability inquiries

Untalimile Crystal Mokoena
Emma Charlene Lubaale


Prisons have been a major player in all countries with a history of tyrannical regimes, as people who attempted to resist repression frequently found themselves detained in prisons. Many countries have adopted democratic government, underscored by equality of all people before the law. Many states – South Africa among them – continue to make reforms to address these past injustices, and, as part of this shift, prisons across continents are attempting to decolonise. This article questions whether South Africa can decolonise its prisons, given that the country’s poor are at a higher risk of detention because they are not able to afford bail. The article focuses on the concept of cashless bail and argues that, given South Africa’s history of marginalisation and income inequality, this model can be one mechanism through which to address past injustices with a view to decolonising the country’s prisons. The article makes a strong case for the effective implementation of provisions on inquiry on affordability of cash bail as one of the means to achieve this end.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2413-3108
print ISSN: 1991-3877