Pretoria: The Department of Correctional Services will continue to encourage the 3 505 female offenders in South Africa’s prisons to be educated, says Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele.
On Women’s Day on Friday, Ndebele joined more than 200 female inmates, including female offenders with babies behind bars, at the Kroonstad Correctional Centre in the Free State where items including baby formula, baby clothes, nappies and toiletries were donated to the offenders.
The inmates also played netball and soccer against the popular Bloemfontein Celtics Women’s Football Club.
Of the 3 505 female inmates currently incarcerated across the country, 980 are remand detainees and 2 525 are sentenced. Between January and March, 282 mothers were incarcerated with their babies.
“We will not cease in encouraging offenders to be trained, and educated, whilst in our care,” said the minister.
He said without the total and unconditional emancipation of all women, the liberation of our country, and the African continent, remained incomplete.
“Gender inequality and the oppression of women, undermine efforts towards the development, and growth, of our economy and, thus, hinder national prosperity. Like we fought colonialism and apartheid, we should continue in our struggle to obliterate racism’s twin sister, sexism.
“We must resolve to accelerate progress towards gender equality, both in the public, and private, sector as well as society as a whole. We should continuously ask ourselves, what more should we do to ensure that the empowerment, and emancipation, of women becomes a daily reality?,” he said.
The department, he said, had a special role to play in the rehabilitation of offenders, in particular young offenders, so that they can realise the opportunities that have come with the new dispensation and how they may take advantage of such prospects.