The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) hosted the 3rd edition of the Southern African Corrections, Prisons and Penitentiary Services Sports and Culture Games from 14 to 18 August 2023 to promote social cohesion and solidify relations with departmental counterparts from sister states in the SADC region.
Bringing together 715 sportsmen and women from Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa, the Games created rare opportunities for officials at the coalface and management level to interact and compete in sporting activities, showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage and share best practices with the long-term objective of strengthening cooperation and streamlining their policies.
In addition to encouraging a healthy competitive spirit and a healthy workforce within the Corrections, Prisons and Penitentiary Services in the Southern African Region, the games also demonstrated the power of sports to foster unity and to display the splendour of African cultures in its diversity. It is envisaged that greater cooperation within the Corrections and Prisons Services in the region will inevitably result in alignment in terms of legislation, training and development and sharing of best practices among member states.
The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola graced the Games closing ceremony on Friday, the 18th. He congratulated all 715 athletes who took part in the games for their exemplary sportsmanship. “If as officials we can participate in such a manner, this can rub off on society and can positively change the entire SADC Region. The kind of behaviour you displayed is exemplary because the discipline you need in sports is the same kind of discipline you need at work and in civil service,” said Minister Lamola.
He also used the historic occasion to shower special praises on Mr Linda Hlophe for his distinguished career as an athlete for 53 years which has seen him amass over 500 medals. Mr Hlophe, who has served in the Department of Correctional Services for 37 years and 6 months, is due to retire at the end of August. Through the years, he served the department with aplomb and ranks high among athletes and coaches. He is also a shrewd organiser and is credited for different sporting activities in the department. “Running has always been a recreational sport me,” said Hlophe, who is known in the running fraternity as the “servant of the people”.
National Commissioner for the Department of Correctional Services, Makgothi Thobakgale spoke admirably of the shear grit, discipline, competitive yet friendly spirit that prevailed throughout the five days of Games. He also provided a brief history of the two previous editions of the Games, with the inaugural instalment hosted in South Africa in 2006, which was followed by the second edition in 2015 which was hosted by the Republic of Botswana in 2015. “In June 2022, the Corrections sub-committee identified a need to revive these regional games in line with thematic area number seven of the 2021/25 Strategic Action Plan, and South Africa took up the opportunity to be the hosts,” explained Commissioner Thobakgale.
The week-long Games which involved 14 different sporting codes and cultural activities were hosted at Kgoši Mampuru II Management Area, South African Police Services (SAPS) Academy in Pretoria West, Rosina Sedibane School in Laudium, Services Golf Club in Thaba Tshwane, Gauteng North Tennis Club in Groenkloof, Innesdale Club in Rietfointein, Zwartkop West Mellville Hall in Thaba Tshwane.
Two athletes who are correctional officers, Loveness Mbulo from Zambia Corrections Services who plays tennis and Nonsikelelo Msibi from eSwatini Correctional Centre who plays darts both had a splendid experience. They both attributed their success to dedication, practice and discipline. “For preparation purposes, I had to find a personal trainer apart from training with my team in order to be in the best shape for the games,” said Mbulo.
Consolidated results in various sporting codes and cultural activities will be announced in due course.