Religious leaders urge community to be more caring and accepting of ex-offenders

Leeuwkop Prison chaplain Mpho Chaane engages Alex church leaders. Photo: Leseho Manala

 

The Department of Correctional Services urged for a partnership with Alex churches to help rehabilitate and reintegrate ex-offenders.

This was said recently by Leeukop Prison chaplain Mpho Chaane to several religious leaders he met at Blessed is the Hand that Giveth church on 10th Avenue. Chaane said many offenders were from the township which was the closest to prison.

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Emphasising the word offender and not the commonly used terms of prisoners or bandits, Chaane said all who are sentenced have offended someone and need to be rehabilitated in preparation for reintegration back into society when released.

He said using the word offenders will assist to reorient the community to regard ex-convicts as human beings who require assistance and care including spiritually to mend their ways.

“Let’s not discriminate. Don’t call them murderers, rapists and thieves. This makes them feel unwelcome and leaves them wanting to re-offend in order to return to prison where they will feel wanted and cared for.” He advised that judging them was contradictory for Christians who are expected to forgive and to visit and minister to them in prison. Chaane said that anyone could find themselves behind bars, even for petty crimes, while others may be incarcerated due to a mistaken identity because they couldn’t afford a good lawyer.

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He urged for the partnership to sensitise parishioners to welcome the ex-offenders who have been taught various skills for gainful employment so as to contribute to society, and in the process, atone for their crimes.

“Also, for them to be part of a offenders’ dialogue programme with the victims to help both get closure and forgiveness.”

Chaane further urged society to improve communication needed to resolve conflict before arguments get out of hand, resulting in crime. “Learn to [discuss issues] in a positive way to encourage neighbourliness.”

He invited churches to also visit the prison to minister to offenders.

  AUTHOR
Leseho Manala

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