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Remember: correctional centres rehabilitate

Written by More Matshediso

Crime terrorises citizens in their homes, workplaces and even in public spaces, making the work of the criminal and justice system important.

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola says acts of criminality cause havoc and pain. He explains the department is determined that effective rehabilitation takes place behind the walls of correctional centres.

The Minister was reassuring South Africans following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s approval to place selected categories of low-risk offenders into the community corrections system.Offenders in correctional facilities receive technical skills which include furniture making.

The release of inmates was a measure of reducing overcrowding in correctional centre in light of the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Approximately 19 000 inmates across the country are expected to be released, provided they meet the requirements of the parole boards.

Minister Lamola says the department has a number of programmes in place that are aimed at correcting offending behaviour, aiding human development and promoting social responsibility and positive social values.

“We are inculcating a restorative justice system, which sees crime as an act against the victim and shifts the focus to repairing the harm that has been committed against the victim and community,” he says.

However, offenders also need assistance to transform their lives, he says. The department  seeks to identify what needs to change to prevent further re-offending, the Minister says.

Inmates are provided with life skills, empowered to discard their previous lives of crime and be prepared for a second chance in life upon their release.

To teach inmates practical skills, they work in production workshops where they manufacture furniture, bread, shoes and their prison uniforms.

“We have 19 textile workshops, 10 steel workshops, 10 wood workshops, nine bakeries and one shoe factory.

“Our workshops specialise in wood machining, upholstery, welding, plate metalwork, fitting and turning, spray painting, powder coating, sign writing, confectionery, jig tool and dye making. Inmates gain valuable skills from the workshops which bolster their employment prospects and opportunities to establish their own businesses upon their release,” he adds.

In the past year, the department’s bakeries and farms produced 3.7 million loaves of bread and 6.3 litres of milk, in addition to vast quantities of fruit, meat and eggs.

“In response to the coronavirus, we will add the production of face masks in the workshops, which will significantly contribute towards the continued implementation of preventative measures in our facilities. We are also exploring producing soaps internally and work is at an advanced stage in this regard.”