South Africa is now on Alert level 1 of the lockdown regulations, which also allows sporting activities to take place under strict COVID-19 observations. The Chief Deputy Commissioner (CDC): Human Resources, Cynthia Ramulifho convened members of a National Sports Council (NSC) under one roof to carve out a new vision for sports in the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). The meeting held from 28 to 30 September 2021, at the Karridene Protea Hotel by Marriott, KwaZulu-Natal region was aimed at developing a clear roadmap towards the resuscitation and development of sports in DCS.
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola graced the occasion and officially opened the 2021 NSC on 28 September 2021. In his address, Minister Lamola said that sports has a potential to unite society, promote good health and wellness of officials and improves their fitness, alertness which benefits them as they discharge their official duties. He also encouraged members of the NSC to infuse transparency in their governance structures and in the management of funds disbursed through the Facilities Funds, to allow all sporting codes to operate effectively, and instil good practices.
The President of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), Barry Hendricks outlined the structure of the confederation from district, provincial and national level. Hendricks also encouraged the strengthening of partnership and stakeholder relations with DCS on sports development, principles of governance and agreements. He also gave some insightful inputs to members of the NCS on the use of colours for different sporting codes and who should wear Protea colours. According to Hendricks, Protea colours are only worn by national teams that are representing South Africa against other countries.
Acting National Commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale, who also addressed the NSC meeting, saw it befitting to acknowledge members of the NSC for their dedication and determination to resuscitate sporting codes in DCS. He further assured them that all Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and stakeholder partnerships that need to be strengthened on sports training and development, will be prioritized. He advised NSC members to focus on integrating policies and programmes across the Department, and added that this will establish sound partnerships with various sporting structures in the country and create a fertile environment to produce champions in DCS and the country.
CDC Ramulifho encouraged members of the NSC to build strong relationships amongst themselves and learn from each other in order to execute their mandated tasks. Ramulifho assured members of the NSC that DCS management will be supportive and available to give guidance and ensure that they achieve the desired results and build a united NSC. She also advised members of the NSC to set targets, meet regularly to report on progress made.
Members of the NSC actively participated throughout the three-day meeting by engaging in robust discussions. In addition, they also held three commissions to deliberate on challenges encountered in their respective sporting codes. Amongst the resolutions that were adopted in the commissions, the NSC members were able to develop the National Sports and Recreation Plan, which is about the development and advancement of sports and training in DCS. NSC members also came up with a COVID-19 Compliance and Management Plan, which stipulates a step-to-step guidance on how to ensure compliance with COVID-19 regulations during sporting events. The COVID-19 Compliance and Management Plan also gives a directive that all sporting codes should have a compliance officer, who must be present at all sporting events.
Furthermore, NSC members were able to nominate the interim National Executive Committee (NEC), which consists of six representatives from the six regions of Department. This interim NEC, will ensure that, amongst others, all decisions taken during the NSC meeting are implemented. The nominated NEC members are Obakeng Molebalwa (Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West) as Chairperson. Other members of the committee include Mxolisi Ngalo (Eastern Cape), Jerome Moses (KwaZulu-Natal), Ronnel Pieterson (Western Cape), Lerato Tlale (Free State and Northern Cape), Tebogo Raphalane-Hagan (Gauteng) and Bongani Mtsweni (Head Office).
Ramulifho wished them well in their new roles and responsibilities, and believes that they will take sports in DCS to the next level. “I look forward to seeing increasing numbers of recruits in different sporting codes, and for DCS to become a member of, and participate in activities of different sporting confederations, nationally and internationally,” concluded Ramulifho.
As part of DCS sporting culture, NSC contributed to the social responsibility and community upliftment through sports programmes, whereby contributions were collected from members and food parcels were donated to a local Early Childhood and Development Centre.