Hon Chair, hon Minister, hon MECs present, hon members and our national commissioner and his entourage, imprisonment has a purpose. Its sole purpose is to rehabilitate offenders. Rehabilitation is correctly placed at the center of the department's mission by the White Paper.
There are people who do not want to live with other people and those who behave like wild animals even though they do not live in the jungle. Jean- Jacques Rousseau once said, and I quote:
Man was born in society. Therefore, the need of the society is in him.
Hardened criminals use the law of the jungle - that is, "Eat, or be eaten!" Those animals that are lazy to eat meat are always on the run. Criminals are always on the wrong side of the law. The objective of section 9 of the Constitution is to ensure that all people are equal regardless of their conscience, religion, thoughts, beliefs and political opinion.
Does the department in actual fact rehabilitate offenders? The answer is simple - we are not sure. The evidence suggests that an overwhelming number of inmates in our prisons reoffend within a very short space of time after their release. This suggests that rehabilitation is not really working.
It is true that most prisons are overcrowded. While the ultimate objective of the Department of Correctional Services is to rehabilitate offenders, prisons have become universities of real crime and hardened criminals graduate timeously. But the level of overcrowding remains unchanged and has to be dealt with by granting special remission of sentences!
If we believe that so much must change, we must be willing to change ourselves. There are many dedicated and courageous officials in the Department of Correctional Services. There are also officials who work with gangs and allow dangerous offenders to escape. Unless officials change their approach, it will not be possible to rehabilitate inmates and break the circle of reoffending.
Crime begins with families and in families. It begins when children drop out of school. It begins with a breakdown in the structure of communities. Mass participation centres must be created in our communities. These centres keep the youth busy all the time. Busy youth do not have time to think about crime. The youth must be supervised and taught the do's and don'ts. They must have access to social workers.
Does the government of the day have a political will? Why is the Chrysalis Academy in the Western Cape, which provides intervention programmes to youth at risk, not duplicated in other provinces? This strategy seeks to prevent crime at its source.
There are thousands of people in our correctional centres who do not belong there. They are convicted of petty offences. They have no fixed addresses or they cannot afford bail or fines, and have to serve prison time. But they are happy in prison as they eat and sleep free!
To win this war, the R2D2 strategy - which is redress, reconciliation, delivery and diversity - must work. We have to acknowledge the injustices and truths of the past. As the DA, we have to look at all South Africans moving forward. Moreover, every South African in this august House must be a stakeholder in building our new South Africa. We must build a strong, diverse society.
There are better and more imaginative ways to reduce prison overcrowding and enhance the rehabilitation of offenders. We must divert many young, nonviolent, first-time offenders out of the criminal justice system. We must also develop a system of noncustodial sentences of community service.
Nkul Mutshamaxitulu, vakulukumba lava nga laha namuntlha, vakhomixinara, maphorisankulu na vanhu lava nga eka Yindlu leyi, ndzi rhandza ku vula leswaku hi khuthaza vanhu va hina lava nga emakhotsweni. Hi nga va balekeli; i vanhu va hina. A hi va dyondziseni ku landzelela milawu leyi vakulukumba va nga hi siyela yona. Milawu leyi i ndzhaka ya hina. Loko vo endla sweswo va ta hanya hi laha ku nga heriki.
Namuntlha va hundzuke swiharhi leswi tshamaka swi pfaleriwile. A va na ripfalo; va dlaya, va pfinya, va endla hinkwaswo leswi. Kambe hi ku tshemba swikhongelo na ku tiyisela ka n'wina hi ta hlula eka nyimpi leyi. Khanimamba. (Translation of Xitsonga paragraphs follows.)
[Hon Chairperson, officials who are here today, commissioners, senior police officers and people who are in this House, I would like to say that we must encourage our people who are in prisons. We must not run away from them; they are our people. Let us teach them to follow the laws which our forefathers have left for us. These laws are our legacy. If they do that they will live forever.
Today they have become animals which live in captivity. They have no conscience; they kill, they rape, and they do all of this. But it is through trust in your prayers and perseverance that we shall overcome in this fight. Thank you.]