WATCH: How an SA social worker gives young offenders a second chance at life - Times LIVE
Mon May 29 13:28:14 SAST 2017

WATCH: How an SA social worker gives young offenders a second chance at life

Staff Writer | 2017-05-08 10:12:10.0

This video is part of TimesLIVE's “On Shift” – a 10-part video series proudly brought to you by 1Life Insurance. Every Monday until the end of May, watch exclusive videos giving unusual insight into the lives and perspectives of people working in interesting professions in South Africa. 

“If you stole a loaf of bread, there is more to that than the bread that you stole … there [are] other external factors that we need to address.”

That is the philosophy of Busisiwe Mzandolo, a social worker based at Nicro, a nonprofit organisation that specialises in social crime prevention and the reintegration of offenders.

Speaking from her office in Germiston, Johannesburg, Mzandolo stresses the importance of giving young offenders a second chance.

The young people placed in her programmes have been convicted of a crime but can, in her words, “learn from their mistakes”.

Social workers’ hours are long and the job takes a h​eavy emotional toll. Burnout is a serious concern.

Many of Mzandolo’s clients come from troubled homes, which makes her job even harder. “How do you ask someone to stay away from substance abuse [but] when he gets back home, the community is a substance abuse community? Sometimes we [as social workers] take all these things home,” she says. “So, I taught myself to leave it at work.”

Despite these challenges, her efforts are rewarded when the youths leave the Nicro programme. “At the end of the day, there is someone else who is smiling … there is someone else who has changed.”


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