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					                            WELCOMING ADDRESS

 National Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services Ms
 Xoliswa Sibeko at the Launch of Corrections Week – 2008 held at the
           Church Square in Pretoria on 14 November 2008

        Programme Director
        Minister of Correctional Services - Mr Ngconde Balfour
        Deputy Minister of Correctional Services- Ms Loretta Jacobus
        Director General in the Department of Justice and Constitutional
         Development– Mr Menzi Simelane
        Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions – Adv. Mokotedi
         Mpshe
        Members of the Executive Management Committee of
         Correctional Services, managers and staff members
        Distinguished Guests
        Members of the Media
        Ladies and Gentlemen, both here and those listening on radio



It is my pleasure to get this opportunity to welcome all our honoured guests and
officials of the Department of Correctional Services to this important gathering
today.


Before any further ado, let me take the opportunity to acknowledge a said loss
we suffered as the nation, the passing on of our beloved Mama Africa, Miriam
Makeba. The nation is mourning, flags are flying at half mast nationally and
internationally as an honour of this great warrior of special type, who broke walls
of segregation and armed soldier of goodwill with her melodies. On behalf of
Correctional Services, I express our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends,
colleagues and the nation during this period of mourning.              Ladies and
gentlemen, let us stand and pay our last respects to this gallant Goodwill
Ambassador of our country, who soldiered on to the absolute last moment.


(Moment of silence observed –
Robala ka Kgotso Mama Africa
– you will always be part of us”)
From sad new to good news. I am happy to informed those who may not have
heard the news, our Minister has been clear of any wrong doing by the Joint
Committee on Ethics and Members Interests yesterday.             The announcement
made by Mr. Luwellyn Landers, the Chair of the Ethics Committee said the
committee unanimously agreed that there was nothing improper in the way
Minister Balfour bought his VW Toureg and that he had paid installments since
the beginning of the contract and there was never any settlement for it. We all
know, this follows a bitter and destructive campaign paddled with perhaps naïve
assistance of the media and many other probably innocent commentators. This
vindication of the Minister’s claims to innocence and being clean, is a cause for
celebration and therefore I would appeal to all of you to stand and give our
Minister and round of applause.


The launch of the Corrections Week Campaign is indeed a significant highlight in
the corporate events calendar of Correctional Services.         This dedicated week
helps us educate communities about our mandate, our successes, our challenges
which we strongly believe require the rest of the South African population to put
their hands on deck to sharpen our systems and measures aimed at defeating
the huge and ugly monster of crime that is ravaging our societies.


We have witnessed the horrific abuse of our women, children and babies; as well
as violent crimes committed against our loved ones, friends and members of our
communities.    We also know that many of the abnormal, violent and abhorrent
criminal behaviour we have witnessed is rooted in far more complex societal
problems that need to be addressed through more constructive ways to ensure
that this country is successful in its bid to win the fight against crime.


I am particularly excited about this focus week. When I assumed my duties as
head of this Department and received numerous briefings about the magnitude
of the assignment I have been given now, I realised that we would not be able
to reach the targets that we had set ourselves and contribute to of eradication of
crime in our country, unless we worked harder to strengthen partnerships with
all relevant stakeholders.


In this regard, I will be traveling in the coming few weeks and months to meet
and have conversations with officials and partners to find innovative and simpler
ways of sharpening our individual and collective competences for handling the
task at hand. We need to always ensure that we are on the right path and that
our interventions do indeed yield the desire results. I am committed to ensuring
that as we endeavour to strengthen efforts to produce results for our country,
we also put our own house in order.
We know as a department that we’ve had for some time a persisting problem of
corruption which in some instances hinders our work, and this regard I will
ensure we do a thorough audit of all current investigations in order to deal with
each case appropriately, speedily with though action taken against those found
to have contravened our laws.


Indeed as a Department we believe that partnerships work better and produce
better results and so today we are asking you to come and help us because we
are not convinced that punishment of offenders on its own is sufficient to deal
with the problems we have identified. While we acknowledge the severity of the
impact that such acts of criminality have had on victims, we don’t believe that we
should condemn the offenders to a life in a system that doesn’t prioritise
constructive intervention. With such a temptation we run the risk of exposing
ourselves again to individuals who know nothing other that to cause others pain
once they finish serving their sentences and are released.


We are working hard and consulting widely with our partners to ensure that we
implement rehabilitation programmes that would give us the desired result in the
fight against crime. Our Department’s core message calls for business unusual
and for all to put their hands on deck to detain, rehabilitate and re-integrate
offenders for a safer South Africa. For this year’s Corrections Week Campaign
we are placing greater emphasis on the third leg of our mandate, social re-
integration of offenders we believe have made good use of our opportunities for
new beginnings. In essence we are focusing on encouraging communities to
give second chances to rehabilitated offenders.


In just a few minutes the Deputy Minister Ms Loretta Jacobus will release into
the air balloons that carry in them a message from a number offenders in our
facilities and it reads


       “I am an offender and have committed a crime – I am deeply sorry for
       what I have done and request your forgiveness.         I am undergoing
       rehabilitation programmes and ask that you will pray for me. Thank you
       for a second chance”


Therefore I urge all South Africans to join hands with us and help us build a
safer country and break the cycle of crime by affording reformed offenders a
chance to rebuild their lives.    This is not an event, but an ever ongoing
programme we must never tire to improve.


Programme Director, I am acutely aware that this is not the beginning, but an
opportunity for accelerating many existing partnerships while forging many on
many fronts. You presence in this gathering bears testimony to this. I therefore
wish to say, feel welcome and if a need arises you may even take off your coats
or jackets.


I thank you!

				
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