The Bhisho Child and Youth Centre, which falls under the provincial Department of Social Development, must be capacitated to care for child offenders as a matter of urgency. In a caring society, young offenders must have access to every possible opportunity to become productive members of society.
The DA views the application by the Centre for Child Law to review the sentences of eight child offenders, who had been detained in an adult prison, because staff at the Bhisho Centre were unable to oversee and care for them, in a very serious light. This was a gross violation of their constitutional rights.
Grade 9 learners should not be exposed to hardened criminals and the other obvious dangers that this presents.
The Portfolio Committee on Social Development was not aware of the transfer of the youths to the Mdantsane Correctional Centre. However, the problems at the Bhisho Youth Centre are well-known.
I will be writing to the chairperson of the committee, Christian Martin, and I will submit legislature questions to the MEC for Social Development, Nancy Sihlwayi, to enquire how this travesty could have happened.
The fact that the department does not have personnel who have been trained to manage difficult children is not an excuse. The DA will press for accountability in this regard from the MEC and the departmental officials involved. Their uncaring attitude in this matter cannot be allowed.
If we are to break the cycle of crime, young offenders must be given the opportunity for rehabilitation. — Kobus Botha MPL, Shadow MEC for Social Development