Youth urged to emulate Class of ‘76

Sunday, June 26, 2016

By Zusiphe Mtirara

Cape Town - Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha has urged young people to learn from the Class of 1976 who gave up their lives to ensure a future free of the shackles of apartheid.

“It is incumbent on the current generations, especially young people, to learn from the best and take up matters of struggle and social justice in general into their hearts,” he said.

The Minister said the youth of 1976 had a vision of a society free of apartheid, inequality, poverty, unemployment, debilitating violent crime, and underdevelopment.

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the historic 16 June 1976 Soweto uprising, where students united in the fight against an oppressive education system. Hundreds of students and young people were brutally killed by the apartheid security forces, while many were injured, imprisoned and tortured.

Minister Masutha on Saturday interacted with young people during a Correctional Youth Summit in Khayelitsha.

The imbizo is part of a series of Youth Summits being held across the country to discover new ways of improving the potential and energies of young people and to divert them from crime and offending behaviour.

“We have rolled out these Correctional Imbizo's not only to share opportunities but also to urge young people to engage in bringing more innovative solutions to address their plight.

“There are numerous state entities that provide platforms and support services for young people including the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Small Business Development Department, Labour Department and even Correctional Services,” he said.

The Minister said government understands that many of the young people who commit crimes are from poor backgrounds, are illiterate and have little or no skills.

“The approach we have adopted, of opening up our correctional centres for skills development of unemployed and poverty stricken young people in communities surrounding our centres, requires the business sector to buy-in to improve both the reach and impact of our interventions.

“Over the past three years, Correctional Services has invested over 50 million to recapitalise its agricultural production sites, workshops, learning centres and factories, in order to improve offender access to quality training and exposure to technical skills.”

He said these skills include motor mechanic, electrical engineering, farming, food production, wood works, clothes manufacturing, as well as entrenching a work ethic.

“We have witnessed growing outputs including an increase in artisans qualifying in various technical fields. We are on a mission to broaden this access, not only to more offenders, but to young people at risk of committing crime in adjacent communities,” said the Minister.

He called on communities, businesses and parastatals to give offenders who are willing to change a second chance.

“We no longer run a department of prisons to throw offenders in dark cells. If they are prepared to change and become better citizens, give them a helping hand,” urged the Minister. –

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