Inmates receive sporting equipment

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Durban - Inmates at the Qalakabusha Correctional Centre in Empangeni will now be able to play sports and learn the valuable life lessons that come with participating in a team sport, thanks to a donation of sports equipment.

The equipment is part of the Recre-hab Initiative - a campaign to assist inmates with their rehabilitation - spearheaded by the Department of Sport and Recreation in partnership with the Department of Correctional Services.

MEC for Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation, Weziwe Thusi, said the campaign, which was launched earlier on Tuesday morning, was aimed at addressing anti-social behavior that often lands a lot of offenders in prisons.

He urged the prisoners to make full use of the chess, soccer equipment and gear and to take advantage of the education opportunities presented to them.

"We believe that by assisting in rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders, we are aiding the fight against crime.

"According to the Department of Correctional Services, most offenders in their centres today are repeat offenders. We want to close that gap by giving offenders something to look forward to outside of these facilities," said Thusi.

The two departments hope that the programme will have a "pay it forward" effect, whereby the inmates will help young people in their communities when released.

The Arts and Culture Department also has a moral regeneration programme, in which skills development programmes are introduced to a number of correctional centres in KwaZulu-Natal. Offenders are assisted in areas including music, craft and literature development.

"We have seen the amount of talent sitting behind bars and came up with a project for correctional centres which seeks to uncover and nourish talent," the MEC said.

The Department of Arts and Culture is currently negotiating for publishing houses to release books to be donated to correctional centres, including Qalakabusha.

Thusi said: "As offenders know that they may have made mistakes but as a society we appreciate that they are now paying their dues... We are prepared to assist them in whatever way possible to prepare for their reintegration."

"By promoting sport in prisons, we would like to see your minds and bodies active, as we all know that an idle mind is a devil's workshop. Sport helps keep our minds and bodies healthy. It improves our level of thinking creatively and sense of judgement," added Thusi.