My African Dream – The price of freedom . . .

On Freedom day this year (27 April 2012) the President of our country announced that 14,651 sentenced offenders would be released conditionally or unconditionally and approximately 20,855 probationers and parolees would be freed. The final 3,800 prisoners in theWestern   Capewere released today.

Since the release of the first batch of prisoners, 47 prisoners (nationally) have already re-offended and are back behind bars for violating the conditions of their remission of sentences.

One woman admitted that she deliberately re-offended so she could go back to prison because she had no support system at home and without a job and a home to go to, she felt she would be better off if she went back to prison.

What a shame – why did Correctional Services not prepare these prisoners for release? Why did they not do home visits to ensure that the home environments they were sending these prisoners to would be enable them to reintegrate into society and family life with the minimum amount of stress? Did Correctional Services even bother to ask the prisoners if their support structures at home were adequate and would it enable them to reintegrate into family life?

Did our President stop for one moment to think about the consequences of his actions? Did our President expect the Correctional Services officials to blindly execute his instruction or did he expect them to say “hold on, Mr President. Releasing these prisoners is not that simple”.

With the high unemployment rate in our country, was it wise to release all these prisoners into a society and community which cannot even provide jobs for those without criminal records and matriculants?

What has happened to our planning skills? Don’t we know how to plan anymore? Infrastructure is falling apart because regular maintenance has not been factored into our planning and budgeting. Health care and our Education system has fallen apart because no Succession Plan was put in place when our knowledgeable and senior skilled people were retrenched or put into “early retirement”. 

For the last number of years, people have chosen to work in silos, so when somebody is off work for whatever reason, there is nobody to step in and fill the gap until that person returns. Everyone wants to be an “expert” and a Manager – nobody wants to get their hands dirty anymore. Even our matriculants have said on national television, “I did not get my Matric certificate to clean toilets”. In some overseas countries cleaning toilets and sweeping the streets are the highest paying jobs you can find. InSouth Africa, however, it is the complete opposite.

Some people have left the country out of sheer frustration of having the knowledge and skills and not receiving any recognition for it.

Coming back to our prisoners recently released (pardoned) – do they have marketable skills? Have they learnt a trade while in prison? Do they know how to prepare a CV and how to market themselves? Do they even know where to start looking for a job? Have they thought about what they want to do once they are released? Did they have time to think through all these questions before being released?

So many unanswered questions, yet so few (if any) questions are asked. Why?

Where are we going as a country? As individuals? Do we only live for today and forget to dream about tomorrow?

In the words of the late John Lennon:

You, may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

 

 

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