Welcome ex-convicts, urges deputy minister

Deputy Minister of the Department of Correctional Services, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa
The Deputy Minister of the Department of Correctional Services, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa, had urged all communities in the Free State to warmly welcome ex-convicts back into the communities.

Speaking at a briefing held at the Grootvlei Correctional facility in Bloemfontein, Holomisa said communities need to realise that the rehabilitation of convicts is a collective effort and communities need to participate too in the rehabilitation of convicts.

His visit to the facility concludes his department’s Mandela month activities, which it says it has been celebrating with other departments, non-profit organisations as well as members of the private sector through various corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Holomisa’s first stop as he arrived in Bloemfontein this morning was at the Heidedal Afterschool Care Centre, where he saw current activities at the centre ex-convicts are involved in, among which was a food garden project, computer training session, and a leatherwork project.

As the department in the region, which also encompasses the Northern Cape, had engaged with Nedbank as part of Mandela month, they also handed over a donation of R20 000 to Bloemfontein Child Welfare, which is the organisation that administers and manages the Heidedal After School Care centre.

The Centre focuses on children and youth who are living in impoverished circumstances in the community of Heidedal and providing them with meals as well as an opportunity to do their school homework.

As part of the department’s Mandela Month initiative in partnership with Nedbank, youth in the area will be identified and trained in leather-making so that they earn some money to support themselves without turning to crime. Those said to benefit from this will be parolees, probationers and vulnerable youth, this as the department seeks to combat the scourge of unemployment, provide skills training and reintegrate former convicts into the community as part of this programme.

“I am impressed at the innovative ideas I saw at the centre, which is in a community that already has high levels of gangsterism, unemployment and drug abuse and I am happy that even though the garden is small, they were innovative in their methods, for example, they used tyres to plant some small vegetables in – onions and things like that, ” Holomisa remarked.

He further added that the skills imparted on the children involved in this project were important in the developmental role they play, as they teach the children in these tough socio-economic conditions to rely on more than just the social grant, which will eventually run out as they turn 18 years old.

Ofm news/Pulane Choane