In a quest to fight an alarming crime rate around Ehlanzeni District in Mpumalanga under Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West Region, Barberton Management Area embarked on a vigorous community outreach campaign with the aim of creating awareness to communities troubled by crime.
In maximising the impact of the campaign, the management area joined forces with an array of strategic partners which amongst others include the South African Police Service, National Prosecuting Authority, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Safer School South Africa Foundation, Department of Education and Local Councillors.
The first community to benefit from this initiative was Kanyamazane Township situated within the Mbombela Local Municipality, followed by Calcutta Community in the Bushbuckridge Municipality. The identified communities are considered to have the highest rate in gruesome crime.
On 02 -03 June 2021, the entourage consisting of parolees and stakeholders visited Likazi Secondary School to engage with the identified troublesome learners. These are learners who were found in possession of prohibited items in school premises which amongst others include weapons and drugs.
The first session held on 02 June was aimed at educating attendees about the holistic operations of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). Topics that were discussed encompassed the vision and mission of the DCS as an employer of choice and the role of community in breaking the cycle of crime. On the second day, attendees were given an experience of life behind bars by two parolees who spent more than 10 years in a correctional centre. The parolees shared all the difficulties they encountered during incarceration. The narration left learners in awe and led them to vow to stay far from crime.
Parolee Mduduzi Ndlovu (35), convicted for rape, warned learners about the danger of having bad friends. “Bad company corrupts good character, Stay away from friends who tell you to do wrong things. I paid a hefty price because of friends and my life will never be the same,” said Ndlovu.
Sethu Mgwenya who spoke on behalf of the Representative Council of Leaners (RCL) indicated that the campaign came at the right time because the school was experiencing challenges of unruly behaviour by learners. Mgwenya said he believed that the campaign was a wakeup call to all who think that crime pays.
The second outreach was held at Calcutta on 04-05 June, where the South African Police Service (SAPS) organised a Youth against Crime dialogue session with the aim of sensitising youth about the adverse effects of committing crime. Katlego Madibe, a parolee under Bushbuckridge Community Corrections, led the dialogue around youth, ‘opting for short cuts and quick cash’. “As youth, we find ourselves desperate to make quick money, there is no short cut in life. I was convicted because of opting for a quicker way, I committed fraud and it landed me in jail. Work hard for everything you want and trust the process, said Madibe.