What was then dubbed as a Prison-to-prison Race in the yester years continues to ignite a sense of pride and solidarity amongst Correctional Services officials and community members.
Year 2019 registered a phenomenal increase on the number of athletes partaking in the race, which is divided into a full marathon of 42km and 21 km for half marathon. Hosted by Brandvlei Management Area, the gruelling race enjoys greater intake from DCS officials, descending from different centres across the country with hope to clinch the coveted trophy. However, the marathon has proven to be more than just a race for DCS officials. Well entrenched as a well-being programme for the Department, officials are able to engage and share experiences with peers.
Leading by example, the Chief Operations Commissioner (COC), Mr Mandla Mkabela demonstrated the calibre of a fit and proper official as he conquered the 21km race like a wizard in just 2:59.32. As an avid runner, Mkabela described his running endurance in DCS colours as a way of promoting a healthy lifestyle for officials. “Assisting officials to stay happy and healthy will lead to a more engaged and productive workforce, thus leading to reduced absenteeism and better overall performance,” said Mkabela. What excites the COC about running is the closer proximity that he enjoys with officials which fosters the spirit of oneness.
Supporting the words of the COC was Sandile Mthembu from the Employee Wellness Directorate who stressed that such initiatives benefit organisations by means of increased productivity, greater innovation, reduced compensation costs and improved organisational culture. Much more agile and speedier, Mthembu was not to be outdone by the COC as he completed the full marathon at 4:55.31.
DCS does understand that having a family and a career can be a balancing act hence the drive to support all staff members to ensure that each person is able to reach full career potential while maintaining a good work-life balance. Mr Mkabela is advocating for a greater engaged workforce, understanding the incredible dangers that face officials on daily basis. A sound wellness programme for the officials is critical in ensuring that they remain focussed and motivated hence the renewed focus on Integrated Employee Health and Wellness. The Department recognises that the safety, health and well-being of officials contribute to a more effective DCS.
A healthy workforce can always inspire innovation and dedication, thus positioning Correctional Services as the central pillar of the justice system. Reminisce of such is already being felt as our performance continues to improve, surpassing our targets by great margins. This is a clear indication that DCS has a dedicated workforce, which is always ready to make a difference.
Speaking about his passion for running, Mr Mkabela cited that operations is all about transforming inputs into outputs, meaning that, his level of preparedness for the race can only be defined by the results achieved at the end of the race. “Same as at the workplace, our inputs must find greater impact and expression in the outputs achieved at the end of the day.” Mkabela explained.
As athletes rejoice at the end of the race, the COC described 2019 as a year that kept everyone involved and engaged at every level, and delighted that the Department registered phenomenal growth. Mkabela concluded by wishing all officials a safe festive season. He paid a special tribute to officials who departed in 2019 and said they should be remembered as heroes and heroines of DCS. He encouraged officials to participate in wellness programmes such as sports in order to stay healthy and fit for the year ahead.
The COC will be on duty the rest of the festive season and encourages all officials who will be working during this time to raise the DCS flag high.