Commissioner Thobakgale chairs meeting to alleviate crime in the SADC Region

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Acting National Commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale, joined by the Secretariat of the Corrections/Prisons Sub Committee (C/PSC), Kealeboga Moruti led the annual Sub-Committee meeting which was held in a hybrid format, on 14 June 2022. The C/PSC meeting was attended by Heads of Corrections/Prisons from 13 countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region.

The C/PSC is one of the sub committees within SADC region which provides a platform for Heads of Corrections/Prisons to meet annually in order to enable a co-operation between SADC Member States on issues related to Correctional/Prisons and Penitentiary Services. Furthermore, the Committee oversees common regional challenges including harmonising and transforming Correctional/Prison Services and move them beyond being punitive only and rather focus more on successful rehabilitation and reintegration programmes of offenders into society.

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In his opening remarks, representing South Africa and also being the elected chairperson of the 2022 C/PSC meeting, Commissioner Thobakgale acknowledged all Member States for availing themselves to attend the meeting, of which its primary focus is to deliberate on issues that will alleviate crime, and contribute towards deepening peace and security in the region.

“This meeting is an important platform where we can steer reforms within the corrections space which will take us forward in unison” said Thobakgale. He also acknowledged some of the achievements registered by the committee to date, including the approved Concept Note on Rehabilitation of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) offenders, which is in-line with the SADC Regional Guidelines on the role of Corrections/Prisons sector in GBV response.

Amongst other key matters tabled for discussions, Member States deliberated on the Implementation of the Regional Strategic Action Plan for Prisons/Correctional/Penitentiary Services (2021-2025), which addresses challenges such as overcrowding of inmates in the centres. Member States raised concerns that overcrowding is still a major challenge experienced by centres across the region. In an effort to mitigate against overcrowding and other challenges, Deputy Commissioner (DC): Intergovemental Relations, Sihle Zikalala weighed in and recommended that the C/PSC members establish working groups with the focus on addressing thematic issues, including overcrowding.

In addition, the Secretariat of the C/PSC, Kealeboga Moruti supported DC Zikalala’s recommendation and registered a commitment to ensure that working groups are established. She also stated that Terms of Reference for the working groups will be developed and a report will be presented in the next meeting, to be hosted in the Republic of Namibia in 2023.

In his closing remarks, Commissioner Thobakgale expressed on behalf of members, gratitude towards the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security for his sterling job in effectively managing the work of the Organ and the C/PSC in particular. He also extended his gratitude to Member States for their selfless and commitment level and wished the incoming Chairperson all the best in steering the C/PSC to greater heights.

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