The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola and his deputy, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa unveiled a wall of remembrance at Leeuwkop Management Area on 18 August 2022, to pay tribute and honour 30 deceased fallen heroes and heroines who met their demise due to various causes whilst serving at Leeuwkop Management Area in the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). The unveiling was also attended by the families of the deceased officials.
The corrections profession is fraught with danger on a daily basis, yet this special group of patriots take on this selfless and sacred national duty to keep South Africa safe nonetheless. Regrettably, some officials pay the ultimate price and lose their lives in the course of duty like the late Eunice Moloko, who was allegedly brutally murdered by an inmate at the facility on 12 August 2021. Her family also used the occasion to conduct a cleansing ceremony. Gauteng Regional Commissioner, Advocate Moeketsi Mashibini said that the DCS family is still reeling with shock in the aftermath of her gruesome murder, adding that the department will vigorously pursue the prosecution of the culprit.
Minister Lamola said the unveiling of the wall of remembrance was an important symbolic gesture because it serves to cement the legacy of the departed, and recognise their invaluable contribution to the fight against crime. “On behalf of the government of South Africa, I want to once more convey our condolences to all the families of our departed officials who passed on whilst on duty and those who met their death whilst off-duty, the loss and the pain is the same. We dip our banner in remembrance of these fallen officials. We shall honour them by picking up their boots, and continuing to fight against all forms of criminality, in tandem with our sister departments in the criminal justice cluster,” he said.
The Minister explained that even though the names of the fallen officials will forever be etched in our collective memory, the Department also deemed it necessary to develop walls of remembrance across all DCS centres, where their names will be imprinted. “These are walls of love which tells an incredible story of Correctional Services, and is our powerful tributes to the fallen officials. To the families of our fallen officials, we want to assure you that your loved ones will not be forgotten, and their Correctional Services story will never be erased. We will draw wisdom and strength from their achievements,” added Minister Lamola.
Minister Lamola also honoured the officials who sadly succumbed to COVID-19, and paid homage to all officials who ensured that DCS operations continued without hindrance during the peak of the pandemic. “The government of South Africa conveys a message of gratitude to all officials who played an integral role in the management of COVID-19 in DCS facilities,” he said.
Deputy Minister Holomisa hailed the fallen compatriots for their selfless service to the nation. “We will forever be indebted to these patriots, whose lives were dedicated to the fight against crime, gender-based violence and femicide, and all manner of atrocities besieging our communities,” he said.
Deputy Minister Holomisa said the building of walls of remembrance is a gesture premised on ubuntu, and will also serve the purpose of appreciating the invaluable service that the fallen officials rendered to our beloved country. He bemoaned the killing of officials by criminals and called for the criminal justice system to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly brought to book. “We remain pained as the Executive by how some of our officials tragically lost their lives at the hands of inmates and parole absconders. We shall ensure that the harshest possible punishment is meted out to those who killed our officials,” he said.
POPCRU lamented the heinous and barbaric manner in which Ms Moloko’s life was abruptly cut short. The union hailed the improved relations between organised labour and the Department in Gauteng under the leadership of Adv. Mashibini. The Minister said that the Department is working towards ensuring an improvement in the conditions of employment, adding that the Department had reviewed some of the security challenges and conditions of employment in order to close the gaps identified.