Hero worshipping of inappropriate role models especially criminals is the main reason young people find themselves in prison this is according to Social Crime Prevention Manager in Nkangala Region, William Msiza. Msiza said this during a departmental campaign of taking school learners to correctional facilities in Emalahleni last week Thursday (29 August 2013).
The school learners were selected from five schools by the Department of Education in collaboration with the DCCSL and they were drawn from KwaMhlanga policing precinct which is believed to be affected in as far as criminality and drugs are concerned.
The five high schools included Hlonipha High school, Ziphakamiseni High School, Sele High School, Vezubuhle High School and Mkhutshwa High School and they were taken to the Paxton prison to get first hand experience of the life of inmates in order to discourage learners not to commit crime.
“We do not want our learners exchanging their beautiful school uniforms for orange uniforms of shame. This is not a joke, what you see here is not staged; these are real people paying for some of the wrong decisions they made while they were outside. Consider yourself privileged to have the opportunity to come here and be educated about the importance of your choices”, Msiza added.
Msiza further said that he believed that providing the learners with this prison experience would encourage them not to participate in criminal activities but instead focus their energies on positive lifestyles and this would assist the department in reducing criminality.
He also said at times young people tend to glorify criminal elements who have reportedly acquired wealth through illegal means. This, he said, often tempt them to look for short cuts to becoming wealthy.
Meanwhile, Khomotso Mosoma a learner from Sele High School said she was nervous when seeing the inmates and she stressed the point of making sure she listens to her parents and teachers to avoid having her freedom away from her.
While Melvyn Masilela from Hlonipha High School said that he is grateful for the opportunity of being exposed to life behind bars and that he was touched by some of the horrendous experiences inmates shared with them regarding prison life. “I have seen that indeed crime does not pay and we must all assist government in the fight against crime,” Masilela said.
The Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison, Department of Education together with correctional services are the brainchild of this campaign which seeks to curb crime in schools and make communities safer.
The programme of taking learners to prison has been implemented by the department over the years to assist with expelling the myth that prison life is good. It has been implemented across the three regions and is also part of the province’s overall school safety strategy as approved by the Executive Council.
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