Inmates grab second chance with both hands

Regional Head: Development and Care (Offender Programmes) Department of Correctional Services Free State/Northern Cape, Gustav Wilson, awarding Orapeleng Mokgoje with his UNISA Youth Development diploma. PHOTOS: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

“If you are still breathing, you have a second chance”, is a quote by Oprah Winfrey that echoes the sentiments held by the Mangaung Correctional Centre (G4S).

The correctional facility had its annual certificate ceremony to commend inmates for their hard work and commitment to the various Inmate Care and Empowerment programmes offered to them.

179 certificates were awarded at the ceremony held on 19 September. Inmates can participate in a number of educational and skills development courses which differ in duration. The programmes include candle making, leather work, basic computer skills, woodwork and horticulture, among others.

One of the highlights of the entire ceremony was the recognition given to Orapeleng Mokgoje for obtaining a diploma in Youth Development through UNISA. Mokgoje’s proud father and daughter were present to witness the moment. Another notable achievement was by Tendai Matongo who managed to receive four distinctions in subjects such as Life Orientation and Mathematics. Programme facilitator, Windylah Gaarekoe, received an award for being the best Adult Education and Training Level 4 Natural Science Teacher in the Free State.

Free State and Northern Cape Deputy Regional Commissioner, Kenneth Mthombeni, gave an eye-opening key note address in which he noted how complex the work done by the Department of Correctional Services is. “Our duty is to create an environment that gives you the opportunity to rehabilitate yourself” Mthombeni said.

The various representatives of G4S, the Department of Correctional Services and the Department of

Inmates were also urged to continue to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. “I take my hat off to those of you who seize the opportunity and say that as part of rehabilitating yourselves, you want to improve your skills so that on the day you go out you will be a better person,” he added. The Deputy Regional Commissioner also called for unbiased media coverage which also shows the positive side of correctional services especially the work put in to rehabilitate inmates.

Managing Director of the G4S Correctional Service, Johan Theron, spoke of the significance of such an occasion. “It’s very important for us as a company delivering correctional services in South Africa to ensure that we empower our inmates and to ensure that we rehabilitate them to make them better people. We equip them so that when they are discharged they can go back to their families and support them,” Theron said. – Molebogeng Malebo