Correctional Ministry has not been given the attention it deserves considering that there are many catholics in Correctional Centres. A cursory glance at the inmates/residents’ statistics will show that Kgosi Mampuru I I Management Area (Atteridgeville, Central, Female, Local and ODI Correctional Centres) alone might have no less than 300 catholics. It might be helpful if Faith Communities could encourage it’s members to be open and bring their incarcerated relatives to the attention of the Church.
a) Visit to Correctional Centres
I visit only three Correctional Centres at present. I relinquished Atteridgeville Correctional Centre. Hopefully the process for the appointment of Deacon Tiko MAEKO as Spiritual Worker will be concluded soon. He would certainly be better suited to attend to the spiritual needs of catholic residents there.
Apart from offering programmes such as Anger Management, CHATSEC, Peace Education Programme, Heart Lines and conducting some spiritual interviews, I also celebrate Holy Mass at 11h00 on Saturdays, Central only
My weekly schedule is as follows:
Monday ODI 08.30 to 11.00
Tuesday Central 08.30 to 11.00
Wednesday Local 09.00 to 11.30
Saturday Central 11.00 Holy Mass
b) Involvement with SAACOM
I continue to be involved with SAACOM. We are fortunate to have Rev Hennie Humman assume leadership for SAACOM. He is a founder member of the association with vast experience of how it functions both inside and outside the Department of Correctional Services. He knows what he is doing and a seasoned administrator. Even the Director of Moral Development and Spiritual Care, Rev Dr Menzi Mkhathini, sits on the Management Committee (of SAACOM).
Apart from learning how to form partnerships with organisations, NGOs and individuals working in Correctional Ministry in whatever shape or form, one also acquires the skills of organising and allowing other people do the work they are are good at. This is especially true when it comes to the integration of offenders and ex offenders into society. I have been tasked with finding out how Central Correctional Centre goes about integrating ex inmates into society.
c) Victim Offender Dialogue
I have facilitated two Victim(s) Offender Dialogue (VOD) sessions so far and more to come. This aspect of Correctional Ministry brings drives home the brutaliy of crime. It gives one a sense, albeit vaguely, of how crime can have an impact on people’s lives to such an extent that they lose, not only their self esteem, but also faith and trust in the basic goodness of humanity.
As part of a VOD Team I participate in training events on how to conduct VOD Sessions. A facilitator shares his experience gathered in negotiating for peace and reconciliation as an effective method of imparting critical skills of sensitivity and empathy. This he does by giving us scenarios in which roles are reversed.
My visits to Correctional Centres in the Gauteng Region begins on the last week of May 2017. According to the letter of appointment as Functionary for the Roman Catholic Church the Correctional Centre I plan to visit must be notified fourteen days in advance.
Fr. Bongi Sithole