The correctional services department hosted a meeting with religious leaders. The event was organised by the Free State and Northern Cape department. It was held on Friday at Grootvlei Prison in Bloemfontein to find ways in which offenders could be helped.
The department urged spiritual leaders to help those who had committed minor crimes pay for their bail to reduce overcrowding at prisons. Free State and Northern Cape commissioner of correctional services Subashini Moodley said: “We’re working towards building communities for reconciliation and grace. “We are saying the time has come for us to partner with the religious fraternity to look at what we can do differently for offenders in our care. “In order to get them back into their communities, we need religious groups to come in to see how they can further the healing process.”
Moodley said the department felt those who had committed minor crimes should not be kept at their facilities. “We want churches to work with us to correct the situation to take these young offenders out of the correctional environment.
“They need to be taken into churches to hear the word of God,” she said. Bishop Peter Jingoes, chairman of the Mangaung Minister Fraternal, said they wanted to learn more about how to welcome offenders back into their communities.
“As the church, we know we all make mistakes but if we are sorry and repent, we deserve forgiveness. “We’re pleading with communities to forgive them. We know it’s hard but let us give them a second chance.”