Inspecting Judge Johann van der Westhuizen addresses youth at Emthonjeni Juvenile Centre.
The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) and DCS held a joint pre-celebration of Youth Day on Friday, 15 June 2018 at Emthonjeni Juvenile Centre in Baviaanspoort Management Area. The event brought together youth from local schools, juvenile offenders, teachers, correctional officials and JICS under one roof to share experiences towards a better future.
JICS is an independent oversight body under the control of the Inspecting Judge and it facilitates the inspection of correctional centres so that the Inspecting Judge reports on the treatment of inmates and conditions in correctional centres.
Addressing the young people, Inspecting Judge Johann van der Westhuizen said education enables the transformation of the correctional system. He said the purpose of the gathering was for JICS to create a platform where everyone can share experiences and advice.. “Development of the youth is a societal responsibility, communities, the business sector, DCS including JICS,” he said. He said the youth also has a responsibility to empower themselves.
Steven Mahlangu, an ex-offender who is now working for JICS said rehabilitation is a choice each offender has to make. He said during his incarceration he chose school and registered for grade 10. He later studied through UNISA. Mahlangu was released in 2011. He encouraged young people, both inside and outside correctional centres to take responsibility for their own lives.
Randzo Malobola, a grade four pupil from Hlabelela Primary School confessed to stealing and having a problem with his temper as a result of being bullied at school. He said he has been tempted to take the law into his own hands to defend himself many times, but through the support of teachers he committed to changing his ways.
Guests were treated to some music and poetry by youth offenders from Emthonjeni.
Many of the children that were brought to witness the event are troublesome in their own schools. “Their behaviour raises a lot of concern, I surprised them with this trip and now I see that they are really taken aback,” said teacher Angel Masoga from Hlabelela Primary School. Mr Mokeri Marakalla, a teacher from Enkangala Comprehensive High School, said although it is a societal responsibility to raise a child, the government should do more to avoid youth going to prison.
All the guests were taken on a tour around Emthonjeni Centre to see what life is like inside a correctional facility. Youth offenders were given an opportunity to share their experiences and regrets with their peers. The school children were encouraged to value their freedom and make wise decisions.
Emthonjeni Juvenile Centre was officially opened by Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela in August 1998. Currently it has 10 educators. According to the principal of the school, Ms Pitseng Kgaume, it has six grade 12 learners this year.
Chief Executive Officer of the Human Rights Commission, Adv. Tseliso Thipanyane, JICS Regional Manager Northern Management Musasiet Mentoor, Baviaanspoort Area Commissioner Jerry Somaru and other representatives of JICS were part of the occasion.