By Lubabalo Dada

EAST LONDON, SOUTH AFRICA, Dec 25 (NNN-SABC) — Female offenders incarcerated in the East London Correctional Centre in Eastern Cape Province have been granted the privilege of spending time with their children and relatives as part of celebrating Christmas.

The event, organized by the South African Sentenced and Awaiting Trialist Prisoners Organization, in partnership with Correctional Services department, is intended to strengthen a relationship between women serving sentences and their children.

Some of the prisoners are serving life sentences and have not seen their children in a long time. They say this is one of the memorable moments of their lives and they are grateful to the department for the support.

One of the inmates, Andiswa Nkosiyani, said she was incarcerated when she was three months pregnant. “I did not inform my family about the pregnancy so I got full support from the inside, including food and clothes for the baby,” said Nkosiyani.

Faniswa Mhlophe, who is a guardian for her five grandchildren because her daughter is serving a life sentence, said she finds it difficult to explain to her grandchildren about the whereabouts of their mother. She said this programme would help them to clear some confusion.

“We didn’t know that such services were available, that it is possible for children and their mothers to have relations,” added Mhlophe.

Regional Prisons Service Commissioner Nkosinathi Breakfast said the programme was part of a rehabilitation process for the inmates, adding that plans were in place to bring more services to the facility.