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 Minister of Correctional Services, Mr. Ngconde Balfour (MP) at the Launch
         of Corrections Week held at the Church Square in Pretoria
                             14 November 2008

o   Programme Director
o   Deputy Minister of Correctional Services- Ms Loretta Jacobus
o   National Commissioner of Correctional Services – Ms. Xoliswa Sibeko
o   Director General in the Department of Justice and Constitutional
    Development– Mr Menzi Simelane
o   Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions – Adv. Mokotedi Mpshe
o   Members of the extended Executive Management Committee of
    Correctional Services, other managers and all officials here present
o   Honoured Guests
o   Members of the Media
o   Ladies and Gentlemen

I am very pleased to welcome everyone gathered at this important event. Corrections
Week is a very significant campaign that allows us as a Department to have a
conversation not only with our immediate stakeholders with whom we work very
closely, but the entire South African society so that together we strengthen our efforts
to rid this country that we love so dearly of the serious problem of crime.

The Department is working closely with other partners in the Criminal Justice System
to implement the National Crime Prevention Strategy which is one of the key
programmes of this government; an important tool we are using to fight the
unacceptably high levels of crime in our country.

As DCS we know that one of the biggest responsibilities is to make sure that we
contribute to the reduction of the high rates of crime by helping to break the cycle of
crime.   This can only be achieved if we intensify our work in rehabilitating the
thousands of offenders in all our Correctional Centres, and for that we need to form
new alliances and strengthen those that already exist.

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Honoured guests, in all the work that we do we are governed by the White Paper on
Corrections which we adopted in 2005, and this important document sets out for us
very clear guidelines on how we should execute our tasks and make sure we deliver
on our mandate.

Corrections is a Societal Responsibility

Chapter three of the White Paper clearly identifies Corrections as a Societal
Responsibility and that therefore means all our efforts must transcend the narrow
view that it is only the government and in this case the Department of Correctional
Services that must succeed in delivering on this mandate. This in essence means that
all sectors of society have a big role to play – perhaps a much bigger role than many
of us realize at the moment. This means that families become the most basic and
primary unit from which correction should take place, but beyond families; schools,
churches and many other community formations must make sure that they are part of
the process of changing the lives of those that have found themselves in conflict with
the law in order for us we to win the fight against crime. We don‟t believe there is any
other way! Contrary to the traditional belief that pure incarceration will demonstrate
our strength in fighting crime, I believe strongly that there are different
methodologies of dealing with a dynamic and diverse group of offenders entrusted to
us by this nation.

Rehabilitation is key

Our guiding document (The White Paper) also tells us that our mandate goes far
beyond ensuring safe custody of those who have wronged and hurt many in our
societies. Honoured guests we are aware that we may not have full capacity to get to
the root of many of the causes of criminal behaviour among the thousands offenders
in our facilities.

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The history of this country tells us there are many social ills that have given birth to
the shocking behaviour of many of brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and even grand
fathers and mothers, who end up being incarcerated in our Correctional Centres.
Indeed it cannot be business as usual and then expect to get different results in the
delivery of correctional services. The current campaign to promote giving of second
chances to rehabilitated offenders who are keen to make the best of what the society
has provided, must surely be seen as business unusual. Changing a persons‟ life
outlook, belief system, attitude and behaviour is a very complex and difficult task for
anyone, but we strongly believe together we can achieve this as the overwhelming
majority of our offenders stand a chance to change their ways.         That is why we
continue to invest in rehabilitation programmes aimed at correcting offending
behaviour and circumstances that may increase the propensity to recommit crime on
release. We would only record partial and unsustainable victories in the fight against
crime if we don‟t rehabilitate and empower offenders as one measure of reducing
chances of re-offending, thus assist in breaking the cycle of crime.

Although they are not enough, our rehabilitation programmes are comprehensive and
indicative of the fact that we are serious about correcting offending behaviour for the
sake of our country. Among other things they focus on giving basic education to
those that may have not been exposed to formal education, vocational training,
psychological treatment as well as diagnosis and treatment of problems such as
substance abuse. We know that all of these problems that I have raised play a very
significant role in encouraging a life of criminality.

The Corrections Week campaign is in its third year and still growing in many respects.
This year our theme is: Business Unusual: Give a second chance to a
rehabilitated offender. Through this theme, we are appealing to members of our
broader society to work with and help us by giving another chance to offenders who

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have paid their dues by serving time in our system. Ladies and gentlemen I am not
talking about those fit to be sent to Kokstad – our top security Correctional Centre,
but about offenders who have shown remorse and taken responsibilities for their past
deeds and criminal activities.    I speak of those willing to rebuild their lives and
become responsible members of society who make a positive contribution in their

You may have noticed the Yellow Ribbon is an important symbol in our event today.
There is an interesting story behind this symbol and I will summarise it briefly for your
interest. This Yellow Ribbon revolves around a true story of an ex-offender who in
the 70‟s wrote to his wife after years of incarceration seeking assurance that he still
has a place in the family upon his release. He then asked his wife to not write back
but as a sign that she was willing to take him back she should tie a Yellow Ribbon on
the only Oak Tree in the City Square. To his relief, as he was being transported to his
hometown there was not only one but hundreds of Yellow Ribbons on the tree which
meant there were other members of his community who were pledging to welcome
him back into his hometown.

One of the greatest challenges we face as Correctional Services is that even among
those deemed fit for placement on parole by our 52 parole boards nationally, an
average of 50 offenders per month cannot be released because of absence of a
support system required for effective monitoring after release. Many have no one to
place a „yellow ribbon on the Oak Tree” in their communities to pledge to welcome
them back.     With challenges of poverty, disintegration of many family structures and
the decline of communal leaving and sharing of responsibilities, we expect this
untenable scenario of rejection of rehabilitated offenders to worsen. We believe you
hold the key to unlocking their social re-integration.

As a Department we have committed ourselves to several programmes that are aimed
at ensuring positive results in the reintegration of offenders back into society.

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Working with our partners in the criminal justice system, and with several non-
governmental structures, we are promoting among others Restorative Justice
Programmes. These programmes are aimed at promoting healing with the “hand that
harmed” playing a leading role, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace in our

Overview of the programme

Programme Director, Ladies and Gentlemen I stand here today to also unveil our
programme for the Corrections Week Campaign of 2008, that kicks off in earnest on
21 November 2008. Note that we are having a series of Corrections Week build up
programmes across the country. As you can see, the programme marks a celebration
of many pockets of excellence that we believe will buoy this institution, notorious for
many challenges, to reach new heights in service delivery.         I appeal to all to
appreciate that the bigger picture remains untenable, but the initiatives we are
celebrating this week are a clear indicator of an awakening giant that needs to
“shoulder” to stand firm and deliver what South Africans will be proud of.

Our Deputy Minister will lead our celebration of a turn around of health service
delivery in Pollsmoor Correctional Centre on 21 November, where we will launch the
17th ARV site within a period of just over two years. The ceremony is just a symptom
of an improving scenario nationally.

We believe if God does not build a house, those building it find themselves breaking.
Without our spiritual community playing a central role in helping to rebuild many
crushed souls in our facilities, all our efforts will be invain. I am proud to announce
that we will sign a memorandum of understanding with the ZCC in Moria - Polokwane,
marking a new road to maximum cooperation in mainstreaming rehabilitation and
social re-integration of offenders to our society.     Nationally there will be many

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denominational and inter-faith gatherings that will endorse the message and wear the
Yellow Ribbon to advance “second chances” philosophy.

We will also officially switch on a state of the Art Security Fencing system installed in
47 high risk correctional centres around the country at a Ceremony to be held at
Zonderwater on the 24 November 2008.           This is but one in a series of security
interventions we are making to ensure safe custody of offenders and protection of our

The rest of the activities are self explanatory. I appeal to each and everyone of you,
individually and collectively, lend a hand, wear a yellow ribbon, be counted in the
historic mission of transforming delivery of correctional services, and make South
Africa a safer society for all including women, children and other vulnerable groups in
our society.

May I call up on all of you to stand up and together pronounce our commitment to
giving second chances.

                         Phambili with second chances, Phambili
                       Forward with the Yellow Ribbon Forward

I thank you

Released by Communications – Department of Correctional Services
Enquiries: Manelisi Wolela - 0836260304

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