On Friday, 24 August 2018 the department and stakeholders officially opened Divine Dawn Halfway House in Bloemspruit, Bloemfontein.
Halfway houses provide transitional accommodation to offenders who are eligible for parole but do not have support systems in the community. Divine Dawn is about 15 kilometres from Grootvlei Correctional Centre, which is the house’s feeder centre.
Divine Dawn Halfway House and the Free State & Northern Cape regional office entered into a partnership in May 2018. The house puts up six male offenders. The house managers, Koena Molibeli and Susan Matobako, ensure a family-friendly home environment. All residents agreed to the house rules in writing upon admission. Adherence to parole conditions of the residents is overseen by Bloemfontein Community Corrections (ComCor). The ComCor office currently manages about 1 300 parolees and probationers.
Halfway houses are managed through a service level agreement. The department disburses a monthly stipend for operational costs. Since 2012, 676 offenders have been accommodated in halfway houses. Of this, 409 parolees have been reintegrated into communities.
Director Community Liaison, Azwihangwisi Nesengani, who is also the national project leader for halfway houses, said progressive partnerships across DCS can help down-manage overcrowding in correctional centres.
Ex-offenders Sarah Chaka and Thabo Maliehe shared their heart-wrenching stories and hopeless pursuit for employment after incarceration. The department is on the brink of finding tangible solution to making employability more accessible to parolees, probationers and ex-offenders. Stakeholder engagement sessions to support this will be held. Chief Operations Officer, Mandla Mkabela, invited stakeholders to jointly tackle societal corrections.
Mkabela said officials were central to the department’s core functions. He reflected on the recent spate of offender violence that broke out in correctional centres and underlined the invaluable contribution, sacrifices and commitment of officials who work under strenuous circumstances inside correctional centres.
“Your contributions don’t go unnoticed in our struggle to not only rehabilitate but to reintegrate offenders back into our communities so that they can realise their full potential. We need to create conducive environments under which our officials, who are the backbone of a functional correctional centre and rehabilitation system, can be empowered and work in an environment where they are safe and protected,” he said.
The department’s target is to provide accommodation for 180 residents in halfway houses by 2021.