Pretoria – Correctional Services Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla on Thursday called on communities to support offenders during the process of being integrated back into their communities.
“It takes a village to raise a child. It equally takes a community to offer a second chance to an offender through contributing towards their successful reintegration back into society,” he said.
The minister was speaking at the launch of South Africa’s first Ex-Offenders’ Desk at Patensie, in the Eastern Cape.
The launch is in line with the resolution of the Ex-Offenders’ Conference held on 23 and 24 July 2015 in Pretoria, aimed at identifying the role that ex-offenders can play within communities to curb criminality and to ease the process of social reintegration of parolees and probationers back to societies.
The Ex-Offenders’ Desk aims to create, manage and monitor programmes that will help communities in preventing crime.
Through the Desk, Correctional Services will encourage and empower ex-offenders to be involved in community forums, poverty alleviation programmes, crime prevention and substance abuse programmes with a specific focus on the youth.
Addressing an audience of over 150 community members, parolees, probationers and officials from different Government Departments, Deputy Minister Makwetla challenged parolees and probationers to avoid re-offending because by so doing they are undermining the trust that communities have in the South African penal system.
He saidthe responsibility was on ex-offenders to give credibility to the parole system by avoiding recidivism and becoming agents of change who can transform from criminality to law-abiding citizens, which can be self-sustained while contributing positively in the economy of the country.
Today’s launch at Patensie will be followed by a similar launch at Jeffrey’s Bay on Friday.
These areas, which collectively have a population of 32,370, are relatively small, and form part of the Kouga Municipality area and the Sara Baartman District Municipality.
The Kouga Municipality area is generally a poverty-stricken area, where employment is seasonal. In the Patensie area, the community relies predominantly on the seasonal citrus, vegetable, chicory, tobacco farming and fishing for employment.
Substance abuse is a major threat, and, therefore, anti-substance abuse programmes are key.
The Ex-Offenders Desk will assist in facilitating these programmes, whilst offering other services such as educational programmes, life skills as well as services provided by, amongst others, the Department of Social Development, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Home Affairs, Department of Health and various Non-Governmental Organizations.
In conclusion, Deputy Minister Makwetla praised Mrs Moss for closing the doors to her tavern and donating the premises to the community of Patensie, and the Department of Correctional Services, for the Offenders Desk.
The newly renovated building was transformed by a group of parolees and probationers, under the supervision of the Humansdorp Community Corrections office.