The official opening of C-Max Correctional Centre at Kgoši Mampuru II Management Area by Minister Ronald Lamola, on 06 December 2019, marked a momentous milestone for South Africa’s corrections system. The official opening of this high-tech correctional facility is a culmination of meticulous work, first initiated in 2008, to upgrade the old C-Max Prison and turn it into a High Detention facility. In his address, Minister Lamola said, “This place is a maximum facility where we house hardened criminals or inmates who are placed in the facility for behavioural modification, and to ensure that they conduct themselves in a disciplined manner in line with the Correctional Services Act”.
The newly renovated C-Max facility, which will house 283 inmates, will create addition bed spaces and reduce overcrowding. National Commissioner Arthur Fraser hailed this landmark and said it signifies that correctional facilities such as C-Max are necessary in a country such as South Africa with a high crime rate. “The C-Max facility forms part of the new generation correctional centres which are aligned to the current policy paradigm of corrections. This facility is designed in a way that makes it close to impossible for a security breach, especially with regard to escapes,” Commissioner Fraser added.
The Minister said the investment spent to upgrade the facility is worthwhile for the country. He called on society not to treat offenders as social outcasts because doing so will cause them to go back to a life of crime. “Society has a duty to accept offenders when they are released, and help them to become productive members of society,” he said.
Minister Lamola also used the opportunity to thank officials for the meticulous and careful detail they put into their work on a daily basis. “On behalf of Government and the people of South Africa, we appreciate the good work that officials are doing under difficult conditions. The fact that there has only been one escape in the history of the centre lends credence and is evidence of the good work that you are doing,” he said
The reigning King of the Bapedi nation, Kgoshikgolo Billy Mampuru III graced the august occasion and described Kgoši Mampuru Management Area as an important historical place where many doyens of South Africa’s political struggle, including his grandfather Kgoši Mampuru II, were brutally executed by the colonial regime.
The opening of C-Max took place in the middle of the the 16 Days of Activism for no violence against women and children campaign. The Minister said that the department must set the tone by demonstrating zero tolerance for anyone in its employ who abuses women and children. Correctional Services cannot afford to be branded as a department that harbours rapists and abusers of women and children,” he said.
As part of the campaign, Minister Lamola, Deputy Minister, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa, Kgoshikgolo Billy Mampuru III and invited soccer legends had an interaction with inmates under the banner of the “Under-The-Tree Dialogue” campaign. The inmates used the platform to apologise to victims and society for the crimes they committed. They also suggested solutions that can help to curb the scourge of violence against women and children. In a frank and passionate address to the inmates, Kgoshikgolo Mampuru III said that communities are reluctant to accept perpetrators of heinous crimes back into their communities. “Communities are tired of men who rape women and small children,” he said.
Deputy Minister, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa urged the inmates to take advantage of the opportunities that government is giving them to participate in rehabilitation programmes and to continue to find it in themselves to express remorse for what they have done. “The solution lies in yourselves. You cannot right a wrong by doing another wrong. If you have been annoyed by your partner in whatever way, move away. Don’t try to resolve it by beating her up or by forcing yourself upon her, a NO means NO,” said Nkosi Holomisa.
Minister Lamola implored the inmates to take up the mantle of being good ambassadors and agents of change by influencing fellow inmates who are due for release to conduct themselves appropriately when they are outside.