With Youth Day commemorations around the corner, many young people say government is not doing enough to support them and that their poor socio-economic conditions often lead to them getting involved in crime and ending up in prison.
According to the Department of Correctional Services, it has about 42 000 young inmates in correctional facilities across the country. They have been sentenced for wide ranging crimes. According to the youth in Mahikeng, socio-economic challenges are the major contributor in young people turning to crime.
Young people have voiced their opinions.
“As young people we are jobless, what is left is for me to go to Pick n Pay and steal a pack of chicken because there is no food at home,” says a youngster.
Another young person has voiced that, “The environment where we come from also because when you grow up seeing adults doing wrong things, you will end up doing those.”
“I will suggest that our government should check the background of today’s youth and try to help them,” says another young pupil.
The Department of Correctional Services says they do everything within their power to ensure that juvenile offenders are rehabilited and integrated back into society.
Spokesperson for the Department Sinabako Nxumalo says, “When we detain them we separate them from the general inmate population because we fully understand that they require more than just the formal programmes. But our social workers, psychologists play a very pivotal role in the form of one to one engagement and also understanding additional needs they may require. This is to prevent young people from coming back from our facilities because we do not want our centres to become revolving dome for offenders.”
According to the South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights, the Department of Correctional Services is failing in its duties to properly rehabilitate young offenders.
The organisation’s Miles Bhuda says, “All those who govern us must stop stealing and the money they accumulate from taxpayers, they must invest it in education of our people, not re-education because we will never educate them, training not retraining them because we will never train them, skill not re-skill them because we will never skill the, so they must use taxpayers money to repair the damage that apartheid has done.”
Despite some reservations about the effectiveness of government’s youth programmes, the prison authorities undertook to ensure that juvenile offenders are assisted so they do not become involved in crime again.
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