On 10 December 2020, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola visited Bizzah Makhate Management Area in the Free State and Northern Cape (FS/NC) Region to hand over dignity packs (sanitary towels and boxer shorts/underwear) to young girls from the local schools, to restore their dignity, pride and confidence. According to a research from Stellenbosch University, about 30% of school girls in South Africa are missing schooling while menstruating, due to lack of sanitary pads. This life changing joint project by DCS and Old Mutual seeks to reduce the number of girls missing schools and create a positive future for learners.
This project of handing-over of dignity packs to schools girls started in 2018 as an effort to keep young girls in schools, restoring their dignity, confidence and pride. When the concept of donating dignity packs was first initiated, the aim was to provide dignity packs annually. However, in 2019 the project could not be carried out due to financial constraints. This year, 1400 boxer shorts, manufactured by the female offenders, will be handed over to 7 management areas in the FS/NC region.
In addition to the boxer shorts from DCS, Old Mutual donated 400 sanitary towels and material for the sewing of boxer shorts worth R60 000. The Provincial General Manager, Mr Silas Sebiloane said the donations will go a long way in ensuring sustainability and effectiveness of the project, and also to uplift young girls and the community at large.
In his keynote address, Minister Lamola said the event was of significant importance, especially because it took place during the period of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children. This project reaches out to the underprivileged young girls and guarantees that the girl child’s dignity is upheld and their health is maintained with the supply of most basic amenities. Girl learners are often confronted with desperate situations which negatively impact their schooling. “As DCS, we are pleased that our inmates participated in the sewing of the boxer shorts, which meet standards expected by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS),” said the Minister. He further mentioned that this project will go a long way for inmates in terms of their skills development. The Minister also encouraged the learners to focus on their studies and aspire to become successful and refrain from crime.
Minister Lamola was joined at the event by the Chief Operations Commissioner, Mr Mandla Mkabela, Regional Commissioner: FS/NC Region, Ms Subashini Moodley, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Remand Detention, Ms Cynthia Ramulifho among others.