Prisons to be renamed
Lizel Steenkamp, Beeld
Cape Town - Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, minister of correctional services, will rename 11 prisons to honour, among others, former freedom fighters who were held in these prisons during apartheid.
The prisons marked for name changes are currently all named after places, but according to the department this is "inappropriate" in the new South Africa, and the association with the apartheid government and the country's "sad past" should be eradicated.
In half-page advertisements in the Sunday papers, Mapisa-Nqakula invited the public to submit written proposals for the renaming of the Barberton, Modimolle, Johannesburg, Pretoria Central, Leeuwkop, St Albans, East London, Pollsmoor, Kroonstad, Durban Westville and Pietermaritzburg prisons.
The advertisements state that name changes will "acknowledge important events, geographical interests and personalities associated with the institutions".
Ministerial spokesperson Sonwabo Mbananga confirmed on Sunday that the department did not budget for the name changes which Mapisa-Nqakula will reveal on Human Rights Day, on March 21. The expenses will only be calculated and announced at a later stage.
According to James Selfe, DA MP and member of the parliamentary portfolio committee for corrective services, these costs cannot be justified if the enormous challenges facing the department are taken into account.
"It's typical of the minister to be obsessive about names, instead of tackling corruption and the parole system mess."
The name changes are part of Mapisa-Nqakula's "ministerial heritage project" to get rid of the assumption that prisons are "places of penance".
She wants to change the names of all the correctional institutions, and this group is up first, said Mbananga.
The new names should "inspire" the inmates and staff. The emphasis is being shifted to rehabilitation and human rights.
"And what better way to do away with the old, inappropriate names which reminds one of our sad past and replace them with the names of our freedom fighters?
"We want to honour them and that which they fought for. The winds of change are blowing, it is time to transform," Mbananga explained.
When asked if resources shouldn't rather be spent on more urgent matters such as overpopulation (136%), gang violence and fighting corruption, Mbananga answered that name changes are just as urgent.
The proposals from the public have to be submitted by February 4. Public hearings will then take place.