- The correctional services department has donated 20 wheelchairs to a school in Mthatha.
- They were assembled by inmates as part of an "offender labour programme" aimed at community empowerment initiatives.
- Most of the skills which offenders use in these projects are obtained via training at correctional centres.
The Department of Correctional Services has gifted 20 wheelchairs made by prisoners, to learners at the Ikhwezi Lokusa Special School in Mthatha on Friday morning.
Assembled by inmates as part of the "offender labour programme" aimed at community empowerment initiatives, the wheelchairs are a much-needed resource for the school.
The department initiates various community projects by utilising the skills of offenders, including maintenance and renovation of public infrastructure, cleaning of schools and public infrastructure, refurbishing of school desks, improving sporting infrastructure at schools, and starting vegetable gardens at schools.
"Most of the skills which offenders use in these projects are obtained via training in our correctional center's workshops," the department added.
Adopted by the department in 2019, the school has benefited from various items, including but not limited to, school toiletries, diapers, sanitary towels, wheelchairs and blankets.
This is in line with the new approach to correctional services which requires the department to be involved in community empowerment initiatives and projects.
"The forging of closer links and cooperation between the department, the community, and other state departments is crucial in the fight against crime. This is also a good platform for the department to facilitate the successful reintegration of offenders back into society," the department added.
Deputy Minister Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa said the department remained committed to continuing implementing offender labour programmes and projects that would empower communities.
"These wheelchairs will bring much-needed relief and restore the dignity of learners who will be able to move around easily to attend school, and it is our way of responding to the needs of the vulnerable in society," Holomisa said.
He added that the work by inmates to assemble the wheelchairs was a positive contribution to society and a clear demonstration of offenders showing "remorse for their actions".
The department said it hoped the projects would eventually lead to the successful reintegration of released inmates into society.