Minister of Correctional Services announced that the month of September will be utilised to commemorate the 100 years of existence of a national prison/correctional services department
1 Sep 2011
Minister of Correctional Services, the Honourable Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, today announced that the month of September will be utilised to commemorate the 100 years of existence of a national prison / correctional services department in the country.
The national department was established on 1 October 1911 when the Act on Prisons and Rehabilitation Centres, Act 13 of 1911 was adopted. In the minds of the people the thought of prison will always invoke negative thoughts and memories. On the one hand it is due to the perception that imprisonment is not nice by its nature, and certainly it cannot be good to lose one’s liberty.
Sadly in South Africa, there are also many other reasons why the thought of prisons brings back negative and painful memories. From its onset the department was an instrument of racial segregation, discrimination, poor prison conditions and many other unthinkable practices that prisoners had to endure, which amongst others included forced as well as cheap labour, dietary punishment and corporal punishment.
After the 1960’s the situation was worsened with the imprisonment of political opponents in general and in particular those that were instrumental in the struggle against the apartheid regime. Some of them even paid the ultimate price by sacrificing their lives at the gallows. The State of Emergency called for in 1985 saw the country’s prisons bursting at the seams. It was to be one of the final nails in the apartheid coffin for this marked the beginning of the final chapter of the end of the oppressive regime.
There is also a lot of good to commemorate - especially all the efforts that went into turning this bastion of apartheid around into one of the leading correctional systems in the world today. It was not easy but it had to be done. We know that there is still work to be done and perhaps there will always be work to do to ensure that the system evolves with time.
During the month of September we will be commemorating this significant milestone in time, not only by telling the story of our past but also by sharing on the prevailing situation as well as providing a glimpse into the future. A programme of activities has been planned that will start on 1 September 2011 as we count down the last 30 days of the 100 years. Watch this space.
Issued by: Department of Correctional Services
1 Sep 2011
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