The Department of Correctional Services (DCS)’s White Paper on Corrections advocates for greater integrated planning amongst government departments and external stakeholders to ensure safer and secure communities. During the Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD), held in Kuruman on 29 June 2022, in Northern Cape, Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa, called on traditional leaders to join forces with DCS in order to address challenges of re-offending and victimization of survivors of crime.
The department initiates VOD sessions wherein offenders and victims of crime meet face-to-face in a secure setting to seek healing, gain closure and restore peace. Deputy Minister Holomisa highlighted the importance of an integrated system between the department, traditional councils, civil and social societies in ensuring a smooth reintegration of offenders back to their communities. “As DCS, we commit to work with traditional leaders to ensure that traditional councils become points of contact for on-going services rendered by parolees and probationers,” said Deputy Minister Holomisa.
He acknowledged the presence of traditional leaders and urged them to embrace such reintegration initiatives. He further encouraged them to take advantage of various DCS reintegration programmes, including the involvement of parolees and probationers in community projects.
“The skills and competencies acquired by offenders behind bars must also be utilized in supporting developmental infrastructure projects and upliftment of communities,” Deputy Minister Holomisa said.
This is also in-line with the District Development Model (DDM) which is an all-of- government approach, including local and district municipalities and national departments aimed at improving integrated planning and service delivery to communities.
The Executive Mayor of John Taolo Gaetsewe District, Cllr. Pulane Mogatle commended DCS for its reintegration initiatives such as VOD, adding that it is an essential component of restorative justice, which is aimed at resolving crime by focusing on redressing the harm done to victims and holding offenders accountable and involving the community throughout the process. She further expressed appreciation to parolees and probationers for the work they do in the communities.
During the VOD session, Mr Thabang Masilo (ex-offender), who was convicted in 2016 for stabbing Modise Mocumi to death showed genuine remorse and asked for forgiveness from the Mocumi family and the community at large. He said that during his incarceration, he participated in rehabilitation programmes offered by DCS to turn his life around. He was forgiven by all four Mocumi brothers who profusely acknowledged the department’s efforts to initiate a dialogue that is victim-centric.
In his closing remarks, Deputy Minister Holomisa urged the participating offenders and parolees to be good ambassadors of Correctional Services upon their release. He advised them to avoid being drawn back to the life of crime, which may result in unwanted conflicts between DCS and the community. He also pleaded with the community to not discriminate against ex-offenders who have undergone the rehabilitation process, but rather give them a second chance to contribute positively in their communities. “Let us work together to uproot crime in the country,” concluded Holomisa.