One of the mandates of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in crime prevention is focused on addressing criminal acts and behaviours and the prevention criminality among learners in schools, as well as providing safer and secure learning environments. It was with this intent that the Aliwal North Cluster Corporate Communication, Cluster Community Policing Coordinator and Aliwal North Station endorsed the Public Service Month by taking a group of problematic high school learners on a prison tour at the Goedemoed Correctional Centre.
Twelve learners from Bishop Demond Secondary School and Egqili Secondary School, accompanied by their learner support staff, were taken to the correctional facilities to observe the consequences of criminal behavior. The Deputy Director Head of Correctional Centre at Goedemoed Correctional Centre, Mr Gabuza welcomed the learners at the gates of the facilities by subjecting the them to the same treatment as what a normal prisoners would be given. The learners got off the SAPS bus into the prisoner transport vehicle which transported them to the prison building.
The learners were searched and had their fingerprints taken before proceeding with the tour of the cells.
Thereafter, they received a typical prison meal before three inmates’ addressed the learners about the traps and dangers of substance abuse and gangsterism. They warned that substance abuse and bad influence from friends can lead a person to prison.
The inmates were very transparent about their own realities and experiences with gangsterism in and outside prison. The learners were also given a chance to ask questions directed at the inmates and the Correctional Service Officers.
Mr Gabuza pleaded with the learners to stay away from drugs and gangsterism “You all have heard what these man [inmates] had to say, we do not want you to have the experience of today be your reality”, he implored. Mrs Parkies, Assistant Director Centre Coordinator Operational Support at Goedemoed Correctional Centre, encouraged the learners to listen to their parents and teachers at school.
“God has given you a brain, use it to cultivate your future. Be brilliant and stay focused in things that shape your tomorrow”, she said.
The learners were visibility affected by the experience and promised to stay on the right path, “We do not want to come back here again”, one learner proclaimed.
Warrant Officer Matetelane, Cluster Community Policing Coordinator, thanked Mr Gabuza , Mrs Parkies, and the staff that participated in the tour. She also addressed the learners saying, “We did this [prison tour] to show you the outcomes of making bad decisions, we love you and want to see you prosper in life. I hope you will go back to school and inform your peers about this experience”, she said at the end of the tour.
The Aliwal North Cluster has pledged to undertake various programmes and activities for The Public Service Month, under the theme “KHAWULEZA”: Taking Services to the People: “We belong, We care, We serve”, to render services to its community.
South Africa Today – South Africa News