DCS reaffirms relations with traditional leaders for better reintegration of offenders

Screen Shot 2023-03-23 at 10.53.15The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders (NHTKL), on 16 March 2023, to strengthen relations between both institutions towards efficient reintegration of offenders in ensuring less reoffending, following the signing of the first MoU in 2019.
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The MoU provides a framework for a coordinated approach to guide continued engagements. Both institutions contribute immensely to the maintenance and promotion of a just, and safe, society. In the main, DCS discharges responsibilities of correcting offending behaviour whereas Traditional Leadership is aimed at preservation of the moral fibre and regeneration of society. Such relations ensure that obligations of all citizens in building a country as envisioned in the National Development Plan (NDP) are executed in its entirety.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa alluded to the role that the NHTKL stands for within the corrections space. “The signing of the MoU is part of a transformative process, and a significant step towards cementing our partnership and relationship with the NHTKL to address, amongst others, the challenges of re-offending; to explore the possibility of mobilising local structures to either skill or employ ex- offenders with criminal records; to negotiate a working agreement between DCS and NHTKL; to urge Traditional Leaders to adopt corrections as a community responsibility; and to invite them to actively participate in the rehabilitation and reintegration processes,” said Deputy Minister Holomisa. He further reaffirmed the NHTKL leadership commitment to the expeditious use of offender labour as and when needed in communities.

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Deliberating on what the signing ceremony means to his department, the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Prince Zolile Burns-Ncamashe, elaborated on how the spheres of government, characterised as distinct, interrelated and interdependent, are enjoined by the constitution to operate and function within an ambience of inter-governmental relations. “This ceremony is a demonstration that the NHTKL, as an organ of state, is exercising public powers to encapsulate its operations within society by partnering with DCS to intervene in rehabilitating offenders and to equip them with skills so that as they get reintegrated into society they become responsible and accountable citizens that will fully participate in all efforts that seek to grow the economy of South Africa. Furthermore, to participate in opportunities that will be created through collaborations and partnerships that this house will be able to create,” said Prince Burns-Ncamashe. He also reminded traditional leaders of their role as custodians of restorative justice, and the vital responsibility the house upholds in ensuring that the reintegration of offenders is successful.

Screen Shot 2023-03-23 at 11.30.58National Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, Makgothi Thobakgale gave inputs to the house on the role of DCS at operational level of the Community Corrections Framework which includes a Stakeholder Matrix, a process which seeks to identify stakeholders who range from those who have influence within communities, those who are interested in partnering with DCS to deal with after-care of parolees and probationers and all those who will play a role in the value chain of community corrections. “As a department, we realised that there is a legislated government structure called traditional councils which operate under traditional leaders. We therefore mapped the Stakeholder Matrix around traditional leaders and councils who govern communities in ensuring a successful reintegration of our parolees and probationers,” said Commissioner Thobakgale.

Newly-elected Chairperson of the NHTKL, Kgosi Milton Seatlholo appreciated the efforts by DCS and spoke on their role of leadership at a community level where traditional leaders are expected to engage and assist all members within that particular community regardless of their status. “Today is a demonstration of the role that traditional leaders play in communities, that, irrespective of the stigma of an individual coming from a correctional centre, we will warmly welcome and assist in terms of proper reintegration of the individual and ensure that they fully participate as one belonging to that particular community,” said Kgosi Seatlholo.

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