Build­ing a bond be­yond bars

Vuk'uzenzele - - Safetgyen&esreaclurity - No­luthando Motswai

mothEr AnD ChiLD

mi­nenhle* is just seven weeks old and she has al­ready had a taste of what life is like in a cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity.

Her mother Phumelele Madela, (36), is serv­ing an eight-year sen­tence for fraud in­volv­ing money laun­der­ing. Madela is be­ing re­ha­bil­i­tated at the Johannesburg Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre’s Mother and Child Unit.

Mi­nenhle will stay with her mom for 24 months to al­low a strong bond to de­velop, be­fore be­ing sent to live with a fam­ily mem­ber while Madela com­pletes her sen­tence.

While in­side moth­ers leave their chil­dren with child­min­ders while they at­tend cour­ses of­fered by the De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices. These in­clude par­ent­ing, anger man­age­ment and eco­nomic crime aware­ness cour­ses.

Madela grew up in Soweto with her mother and brother.

“I got sucked into the world of crime be­cause I was liv­ing be­yond my means. I was a bread win­ner with two other chil­dren. I was em­ployed by a lo­gis­tics com­pany do­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion and was in debt; life was tough,”she said.

Madela was part of the money laun­der­ing syn­di­cate for about a year and was caught when her com­pany started an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

She said speak­ing out about her mis­takes is her way of say­ing sorry to her vic­tims and a form of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

“When I ar­rived at this fa­cil­ity I was four months’ preg­nant and had been given a 13-year sen­tence, sus­pended for five years,” she said.

“I gave birth at Chris Hani Barag­wanth Hos­pi­tal.

When I needed to go for my check-ups I would be shack­led. I had to en­dure the stares as part of pay­ing my dues to so­ci­ety.”

Madela said that it took time to come to terms with life in a cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity es­pe­cially be­cause part of her sen­tence is served with her daugh­ter.

“I would cry and I was an­gry but with the coun­selling and cour­ses that we at­tend in this fa­cil­ity it be­came eas­ier for me to ac­cept what had hap­pened.”

The re­morse­ful Madela said she is very sorry for the crime that she com­mit­ted and the hurt that she caused.

“To young peo­ple out there

Ac­com­mo­dat­ing moth­ers and ba­bies

Ofentse Mor­wane, com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for Gaut­eng Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices said that the Johannesburg unit, which cur­rently houses 27 ba­bies and their moth­ers, was of­fi­cially opened in 2012. Sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties ex­ist at other cen­tres, in­clud­ing: • East Lon­don Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre in the East­ern Cape.

• Dur­ban Westville Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre in KwaZulu-Natal.

• Polok­wane Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre for the Lim­popo, North West and Mpumalanga re­gion. • Kroon­stad Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre for the Free State and North­ern Cape re­gion.

Mor­wane said the roll-out of these mother and child units is the de­part­ment’s di­rect re­sponse to the in­creas­ing num­ber of ba­bies who find them­selves be­hind bars with their moth­ers.

“These fa­cil­i­ties have been de­signed with the in­ter­ests of the child in mind to al­low the ba­bies to have as nor­mal an ex­is­tence as pos­si­ble, given the in­car­cer­a­tion of their moth­ers.”

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