CELEBRATING 16 Days of activism against women and child abuse, the Departments of Correctional Services, and Community Safety as well as the iLembe District Municipality and the Maphumulo Municipality and the South African Police Service (SAPS) visited the Maphumulo Prison last Monday, 7 December.
Social worker with the prison Philani Mngadi offered inmates a word of advice on how to reintegrate into their communities upon release.
“When you are released and you go back to your community the best place to start when it comes to reintegrating is with your family. Always remember that women and children must be treated with respect and dignity at all times,” said Mngadi.
Unit commander of the iLembe cluster Community Policing Forum, Major Bhekithemba Shabane urged prisoners to let go of gangsterism once they have been released.
“Forget about gangersterism, especially ‘inombolo’ [numbers gangs,] when you are released from prison because continuing with it can lead to or cause more problems for you,” he said.
Maphumulo mayor Happy Ngcobo advised inmates to ensure that they communicate with their local leaders in their efforts to reintegrate into their communities.
iLembe District deputy mayor Dolly Shandu said it had been decided that such a programme would be taken to the Maphumulo prison as many of the inmates were due for release.
“The time you have spent in prison has been a huge setback. Of course the community will not easily accept you back if you continue to behave in the same manner that led to you being imprisoned so you have to change and start rebuilding your life,” she said.
Prisoner Patric ‘Nkonka’ Thwala said he is ready to start a new life out of prison and that the advice he heard on the day boosted his confidence.
Another prisoner, Thulasizwe ‘Lovers’ Nsele said: “Though the uniform that my fellow inmates and I are wearing is printed with the word ‘correction’, it can never change us, only our conscience and a new mind set will change our lives.”
Bonginkosi Mthalane, from Sweetwaters, in Pietermaritzburg, thanked the organisers of the event as it had encouraged prisoners to better their lives.
“We men are usually the cause of social ills in our communities so let us repent and rather protect our women and children,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the KwaDukuza SAPS cluster, Brigadier Bheki Zondi said local police are committed to ensuring that women and children live in safe areas.
“We wish all community members would work with the police to reduce the number of crimes committed against women and children,” said Zondi.