Correctional Services awards excellence

Sunday, March 3, 2013

By Mohlatlego Moitsi

Mbombela - Helen Mmaleseyane Leseyane (39) is passionate about making a meaningful change in the lives of offenders.

She always tells offenders to equip themselves with skills and education while serving their sentences, so that they are able to make a living once they are released from prison.

Her passion, dedication and commitment paid off last night when the Minister of Correctional Services, Sibusiso Ndebele, named her the overall winner of the prestigious Education and Training Award.

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) held its 5th National Corrections Excellence Awards in Polokwane, Limpopo.

In an interview after receiving the highly contested accolade, Leseyane, who comes from Phela village near Rustenburg in the North West, said she did not expect to be the overall winner.

''Frankly speaking, I expected to come third," she said modestly.

Leseyane said she loved teaching offenders.

''As the educator, I give offenders hope, respect and love.''

She admitted that some inmates were not interested in learning, but that this did not deter her.

''I keep motivating inmates to study while in jail, so that their communities will perceive them as changed people and accept them back upon their release.”

Leseyane joined the DCS in 2002. Before that, she had volunteered as an Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) educator for nine months at Leretletse Lesedi Secondary School.

She completed a BA in Education in 1996 from the former University of Bophuthatswana, which is now known as the North West University.

Today, she is an educator at the Mafikeng Correctional Centre, which accommodates about 135 offenders.

She recruits inmates at morning devotion and goes from cell to cell to enrol them for courses.

She has managed to enrol 43 ABET level 1 - 4 learners, 22 for Senior Certificates and two who are furthering their studies through UNISA.

She has forged a partnership with the Mafikeng Library Centre and they lend her the relevant school curriculum books.

She also came up with the ‘Advise the Youth Project’, which records the hardships and limitations of imprisonment on DVD. The DVDs will be shown at schools to discourage youth from committing crime.

During the awards ceremony, Minister Ndebele noted that in the 2012 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations, the Mafikeng Correctional Centre inmates achieved a 79.25% pass rate compared to 68.06% in 2011.

Ndebele said the DCS was working towards turning prisons into learning centres. –