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Left: Thohoyandou Area Commissioner Takalani Mashamba during the presentation. Middle: Polokwane Area Commissioner Kenneth Mthombeni explains the purpose of the event. Right: Provincial Government Spokesperson Phuti Seloba welcomes guests.

City prison: Ticking bomb

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The Polokwane Correctional Centre is approximately 281% overpopulated with 1 565 offenders having to share accommodation designed to accommodate 557 inmates.
This was revealed during the Department of Correctional Services’ annual ‘Breakfast Behind Bars’ event hosted at the centre on Tuesday.
In a presentation by Thohoyandou Area Commissioner Takalani Mashamba the challenges of overpopulation became clear as he indicated that Polokwane Correctional Centre hosts 1 008 offenders more than its actual capacity. The centre in Modimolle has 498 offenders, the one in Tzaneen 112, respectively a total of 134 and 45 offenders more than the actual capacity. In Polokwane about 80 offenders are hosted per unit with only one toilet and shower.
Mashamba further indicated that overcrowding hinders rehabilitation efforts, that the correctional centres lack rehabilitation infrastructure such as workshops and that correctional officers do not have any training in handling mental cases.
During his presentation he also indicated that 140 offenders are engaged in education and training programmes and 73 in adult educational training. One hundred and five offenders are part of skills development programmes such as bead work, shoe crocheting and recycling.
In terms of health care programmes Mashamba said the 1 388 offenders are on health care programmes with one positive outcome out of every six tested for HIV, one offender is on Tuberculosis treatment and 77 are in mental health care programmes.
Mashamba referred to recent successful projects where beds and chests of drawers made by offenders were donated to Siloe School for the Blind and the construction of a science lab recently handed over to SJ van der Merwe Secondary School.
Polokwane Area Commissioner Kenneth Mthombeni said the purpose of the event is for stakeholders to get first-hand experience of the rehabilitation centre and its programmes.
Representatives from stakeholders such as the Polokwane Municipality, Provincial Government, National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders and media houses were afforded a guided tour through the facility.

Story & photos: RC Myburgh
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