South Africa is making progress in rehabilitating people in prison for committing crimes, and in creating opportunities for members of society to participate in this process, says Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.
Briefing journalists in Cape Town on Wednesday as the chairperson of the government's justice, crime prevention and security cluster, Radebe said these initiatives included the Victim-Offender Dialogue programme, as well as various education programmes to help offenders break the cycle of crime.
Introduced by the Department of Correctional Services in 2012, the Victim-Offender Dialogue programme places the victim at the centre of the corrections process, and seeks to ensure that the victim is not forgotten once the offender has been sentenced by the courts.
"As government, we acknowledge that the loss suffered by victims is irreplaceable, and that the healing of wounds and pain is a process that does not end once guilt is established by the courts."
Radebe said the government has in the past five years intensified its focus on the education of offenders.
"Our prisons are now correctional centres of rehabilitation. Offenders are given new hope and encouragement to adopt a lifestyle that will result in a second chance towards becoming ideal citizens."
Flowing from the adoption of compulsory education, illiterate inmates on the pre-ABET adult literacy programme had increased by 100% from 1 300 to 2 600, with the target of catering for over 5 500 completely illiterate offenders.
According to Radebe, over 9 700 offenders are currently enrolled on the full ABET literacy programme, while 3 525 are busy with Further Education and Training (including grades 10-12) studies, and 1 762 are undertaking their post-school studies.