Correctional Services Minister Mapisa Nqakula said a review into the project highlighted a number of financial and operational problems with the PPP model, including conflicts with policy over private sector operators.
Bidders, which have not been disclosed, have been given the option to revise their offers to minimize their involvement solely to the construction and maintenance on the contract, rather than operation through the provision of custodial services.
The programme, which was expected to add 3,000 spaces across the correctional centres, was first launched in 2003. The request for qualifications were released in October 2007 and the final tender was released on in September 2008.
Cabinet members are believed to have endorsed the cancellation but indicated that a review on the PPP model across government was needed.