Church leaders must help cons - Ndebele

2013-07-28 21:03
Sibusiso Ndebele (Picture: GCIS)

Sibusiso Ndebele (Picture: GCIS)

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Johannesburg - Religious leaders should do more to rehabilitate criminals, because this was not the sole responsibility of the correctional services department, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Sunday.

"We call upon religious leaders to play a more active role in our concerted efforts to heal victims of crime, and rehabilitate offenders so that they return to society as better human beings," he said.

"Corrections is not the sole responsibility of the department of correctional services. Corrections is a societal responsibility."

On Friday, Ndebele met religious leaders and officials at the East London Correctional Centre.

"As government, we will not win the battle against crime and re-offending if victims of crime, and the religious community, are not at the centre of the justice system," he said in a statement on Sunday.

"The religious community can encourage moral regeneration, coupled with basic values and cultures; be more prominent with its role in rehabilitation.... We cannot allow a situation where the poor are being punished because of their lack of money."

He said religious leaders should play a major role reintegrating convicted criminals into society, and providing social and economic assistance to the families of people serving time in prison.

Ndebele said there was a church in every community and it was time for them to play their part.

"We all have a duty to play in the eradication poverty. We must perform charitable deeds as Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and indigenous cultures dictate," he said.

"Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings."

Research showed a correlation between a lack of education, poverty and crime, he said. To reduce re-offending, the department had made education compulsory, he said. "Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace," Ndebele said.

"The hand that previously held an okapi, to harm others, must be transformed into a hand of a tailor, carpenter, builder and writer.

"We are, indeed, humbled to see offenders taking pride and working hard...."

He said his department was putting the victims of crime at the "core of the justice system" and their pain did not go away until the offenders were sentenced.

"I have no doubt in my mind that the religious community is best positioned to play a decisive role in setting right the hearts, minds, and souls of South Africans.

As long as we do not make moral regeneration a central theme of our conduct, we will find ourselves having progressed one step forward, and regressed 10 steps backward," he said.

Read more on:    sibusiso ndebele  |  prisons

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