Communities must help rehabilitate offenders: Ndebele
Communities must take some responsibility for the rehabilitation of offenders, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said.
"We want to create opportunities where various stakeholders... will assemble together with offenders with a single purpose to rebuild our communities ravaged by crime," he said.
These stakeholders included those personally affected by crime, their families, communities, community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, religious and spiritual bodies, educators, councillors and local leaders.
Crime originated within communities, and so communities should take "co-responsibility" for rehabilitation.
To this end, the department of correctional services was embarking on victim-offender dialogues.
This programme aimed to keep offenders away from imprisonment by reconstructing family units and community systems and victim support and empowerment.
At the same time, those already incarcerated should be rehabilitated.
"The objective of the victim-offender dialogues is to put the victim back at the centre of the corrections system, as the victim is directly, and personally, affected by the criminal act of the offender," he said.
Equally, the offender must be given an opportunity to reflect on his or her wrongs and request forgiveness.
Music, literature, arts, cultural events, heritage, sport, formal education and skills acquisition should be used to reinforce corrections programmes.
Economic renewal through co-operatives and enterprise development, spiritual growth and "self-correcting interventions" could also be used to this end.
"The trilogy of victim, offender and community must play a leading role in the implementation of the victim-offender dialogues as corrections is a societal responsibility," Ndebele said.
South Africa's rate of imprisonment was much higher than any other country in Africa and one of the highest in the world, with 310 inmates for every 100,000 residents.
In August last year, a total of 157,375 inmates were in prison -- the highest in Africa, ahead of Ethiopia, with 112,361 inmates, according to the World Prison Brief.