Ex-offenders given a hand

2016-06-29 06:00
FROM the left are regional Commissioner Subasia Moodle, Minister of Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla, Chief Deputy Commissioner Pumla Mathibela and Sol Plaatje’ former mayor Agnes Ntlangula.                                     Photos: Boipelo Mere

FROM the left are regional Commissioner Subasia Moodle, Minister of Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla, Chief Deputy Commissioner Pumla Mathibela and Sol Plaatje’ former mayor Agnes Ntlangula. Photos: Boipelo Mere

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IT has always been a concern within communities as to where ex-offenders go after their release from prison in terms of employment.

The offenders undergo different skills training programmes during their incarceration, but struggle to support themselves after their release, resulting in some of them returning to jail through committing another crime.

They receive, amongst others, training for building, carpentry and electrical work.

In response to that concern, the Department of Correctional Services has come up with the intervention measure of launching ex-offender desks in different regions of correctional services to address such needs.

Two regional ex-offender dialogues were successfully held in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, while the third one was held on Wednesday (22/06) at the Tswelopele Correctional Facility in Kimberley.

The national commissioner of Correctional Services, Zacharia Modise, says that the tendency to forget all about the offenders after their release from prison, is now a thing of the past. The department is working on intervention measures to assist them.

The dialogue follows the recommendations made in 2015 to establish the desks. The deputy minister of Correctional Services, Thabang Makwetla, announced that the desks would be established in all six regions.

Modise pointed out that they were hopeful that a certain allocation would be made towards the establishment of the desks, as financial constraints were an issue at the start.

The dialogues are aimed at creating an open platform for the ex-offenders to enhance a national conversation of successful integration.

At the Tswelopele Correctional Centre in Kimberley, the deputy minister said the aim was also to translate the resolutions of the conference into practical programmes that made a real difference in the lives of ex-offenders and the communities they came from.

“This way, we are making ourselves relevant towards cutting down on the high level of crime and contributing towards their (ex-ofenders’) efforts of building their families on their release.

“We expect the partnership with NGOs to enhance reintegration, victim empowerment, review of the criminal records management framework, empowerment of ex-offenders in collaboration with communities to combat crime, support of good rehabilitation and reintegration programmes and the establishment of an umbrella structure to streamline communication with ex-offenders,” he elaborated.

“We will be able to establish who are the NGOs we work with in each region, what is expected from both sides and the procedures to follow, because it is critical for them to be integrated and for them to earn a living.”

According to Makwetla, previous engagements have already highlighted the good work that is quietly being done by rehabilitated offenders who have remained positive despite facing daunting challenges.

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