Thohoyandou — Correctional Services Deputy Minister Dr Ngoako Ramathlodi on Saturday called on communities to play an active role in the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders back into society.
Ramathlodi also called on communities not to further punish the offenders after they have been released, adding that it was not necessary as they have already served their sentences.
Addressing the local communities of Matatshe village near Thohoyandou in Limpopo during a Ministerial Imbizo held under the theme, Parole and Social Re-integration, Ramathlodi said offenders should be given a second chance.
"They are members of society who made a mistake and they are doing their best to change," he said.
He further called on all South Africans to strive for a crime-free South Africa, adding that most crimes were being committed in the communities and it was upon communities to report such acts in their communities.
With regard to concerns raised by the victims who feared to be attacked by the offenders when they were released, Ramathlodi said the offenders were not just released on parole, they were released under strict conditions and failure to adhere to those conditions, the offender was taken back to jail.
He said prior to the release of an inmate, victims were informed as to prepare them.
With the new parole law, victims are given an opportunity to make presentation before a person is released on parole.
In prison offenders are put in various programmes to help them with rehabilitation. They also have an opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills levels by participating in various training programmes.
The offenders are also encouraged to enrol at tertiary institutions, this in a bid to change their lives for the better.
Offenders from various Correctional Centres in Limpopo attended the event together with the victims or those whom they have wronged, a move welcomed by both parties.
For most of the victims, it was the first time sitting under one roof with the offenders.
One of the inmates, Mashau Gumani from Nzhelele, serving a lengthy jail term, spoke on behalf of the inmates and asked for forgiveness from the victims.
"Being in jail is not a nice thing, we have learnt from our mistakes," he said, adding that they are prepared to face the world and its challenges.
The department said bringing the victims and the offenders together was to ensure healing and reconciliation.
According to the department, the aim of the Imbizo was among other things to educate members of the public about issues pertaining to parole.
Earlier this year, the department announced new medical parole board members who will deal with medical parole applications from inmates.
The board as part of its responsibilities, review all applications on medical grounds and also develop a list of conditions that qualify under the new Act.