Nicro and the department of correctional services (DCS) launched their Ex-Offender Programme at the West Bank prison hall on Thursday. At the launch, the department renewed its service level agreement with the South African National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro), which was due to as it will be coming to an end on October 30.
DCS regional coordinator of DCS Nosikhumbuzo Sontshatsha said the department benefited from the programmes offered by Nicro.
Nicro area manager Antony Chakuwamba said: “Nicro is one of the largest, longest- serving indigenous non-profit organisations in the country.
“We specialise in social crime prevention and offender reintegration.
“Nicro boasts a rich and unparalleled history in human rights, juvenile justice and innovative criminal justice reform.
“As our theme states, ‘Together against crime, it starts with you’ we believe that each of the stakeholders will be working together with Nicro and DCS in fighting and preventing crime.”
Chakuwamba said about 95% of offenders who participated in their programme had have not been re-incarcerated reincarnated and, as such, had been as they have rehabilitated.
“At the foundation of all its endeavours is Nicro’s firm belief in reconciliation and healing and its commitment to strengthening a democratic society based on human rights principles.
“There are challenges that we as the community still need to tackle in order to reduce crime in the country.
“Poverty plays a vital role in the growth of crime as there are offenders who will commit crime just to go back to prison as they claim that the life behind bars is easier than the outside world,” he said.
DCS acting regional commissioner of DCS Nozipiwo Dumbela said they had partnered with Nicro since 2009 and wanted were are willing to continue to work with the organisation.
She said the Eastern Cape was the only province that had has an agreement with Nicro, which now incorporated programmes for not only the offenders and ex-offenders, but also for the youth.
“In the Eastern Cape, we are setting new trends in terms of providing the best correctional services for a safer South Africa,” Dumbela said.
Duncan Village resident and ex-offender Themebekile Havi shared his experience of being in and out of prison.
“I started committing criminal acts at the age of 10.
“I remember social workers asking me about my background. That is where I told them that I am the oldest at home, where I had to take care of my sibling because we were a dysfunctional family.
“My mother was an alcoholic and my father was serving eight years in prison.
“At that age, I never thought education would improve my life because growing up in Duncan Village, education wasn’t prioritised – it was either you were in prison or in the streets being a criminal,” said Havi.
He said after he had shared his story with the social workers, they placed him in took him to Isaiah Isaiah 58 Children’s Home.
“Eight years later, I went back to the streets and joined a gang. I had to prove my street credibility by doing heinous crimes, such as mugging, killing, and drug dealing.”
Six years ago, he was shot by the police, which is when he decided to turn change his life around.
“The young nowadays are involved in criminal activities.
“We ex-offenders always share the good times in prison, but never tell the youth about the bad and tough times.”
Havi is now mentoring young boys in Duncan Village, where he tells them about his bad experiences in prison.
“In 2013, I started a non- profit organisation, Sakh’uluntu Child Welfare, where I mentor the youth in my community.
“The programmes I did with DCS and Nicro have played a major role in my life, because I am this changed man because of them,” he said. concluded.