Subsequent to the Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa’s working visit to Upington Management Area on 29 March 2022, the acting National Commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale handed over dignity packs comprising of sanitary towels and boxer shorts/underwear to young girls as well as school back packs to young boys at Oranje Oewer Primary School on 30 March 2022, in the Free State and Northern Cape (FS/NC) region. This life changing joint concept of donating dignity packs was initiated in 2018 by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in partnership with Old Mutual. The aim of the project is primarily to keep girls from disadvantaged families at school, who often miss their classes due to lack of sanitary towels when they are on their menstrual period, which has a direct negative impact on their academic performance and progress. The back packs which were handed over to young boys, were a donation from Metropolitan.
In 2020, female offenders from Bizzah Makhate Management Area, sewed 1400 boxer shorts after Old Mutual had donated material worth R60 000 for the sewing of boxer shorts to be handed over to seven management areas in the FS/NC region. These boxer shorts were also verified to meet the standard expected by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).
In his keynote address, Commissioner Thobakgale echoed the words of the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela during his speech in 1996 at the Human Rights Day Commemoration, where he said that no one should be left behind on the development of this country and the improvement of the living conditions of the people.
“DCS is committed to extend on its services to restore the dignity of our people as well as ensuring that the basics of service delivery are enjoyed by everyone,” said Commissioner Thobakgale. He also advised learners to refrain from crime and encouraged them to aspire to become successful and exemplary as they set off in pursuit of various careers that exist in DCS.
Although this significant event took place during school holidays, Commissioner Thobakgale commended all the learners for availing themselves. “By overcoming the spirit of holidays and heeding to the request from your teachers to be present today, it shows that you are disciplined, dedicated and determined to be future leaders,” he said.
Accompanied by Regional Commissioner FS/NC region, Subashini Moodley, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Remand Detention, Anna Molepo and other stakeholders, Commissioner Thobakgale presided over the establishment of a vegetable garden at the school. The garden will be maintained by parolees who are released from correctional centres to serve the remainder of their sentences under community corrections and supervision. It is envisaged that whilst maintaining the garden, they will impart their gardening skills and knowledge to the learners. This is also part of social crime prevention within the community and to dissuade parolees from going back to the life of crime.
On behalf of the learners, teachers and parents, the school acting principal, Mr Lionel Josephs conveyed words of appreciation to DCS and all stakeholders who contributed to the success of the event. He hailed the continued partnership and support from the different stakeholders, aimed at empowering the learners and the Upington community at large. “We will do everything in our power to ensure that the learners excel in their studies and that the vegetable garden is well sustained,” concluded Josephs.