The Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, has opened a new R300 million Tzaneen Correctional Centre in Limpopo.
The prison occupies 44 hectares of land on a farm, 5km outside Tzaneen, in the Greater Tzaneen Municipality. The centre is classified as a medium centre, housing offenders serving sentences up to 15 years within the Mopani District Municipality. It is one the three centres in Limpopo under the Polokwane Management Area.
The other two centres are Polokwane Correctional Centre and Capricorn District and Modimolle Correctional Centre, in the Waterberg District.
Minister Lamola defended the money spent on the construction of the new facility. “We are accused that we are building hotels for these people, we are not, but trying to change lives,” he said.
Public Works Deputy Minister Noxolo Kiviet, Limpopo MEC for Transport and Community Safety Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya, Greater Tzaneen Municipality Mayor Maripe Mangena, Mopani District Municipality Chiefs led by Chairperson of Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders Council Kgoshi Dikgale, Tzaneen Cluster Police Major General Maggy Mathebula and former Greater Tzaneen Municipality (GTM) Mayor currently the Speaker of GTM Council Cllr Dikeledi Mmetle also attended the unveiling of the prison.
The centre replaces an old one, which had 68 beds. The newly built facility has 501 beds and is one of 16 New Generation Centres in South Africa.
“No country has a fully built infrastructure, am glad the Public Works Deputy Minister is here and committing herself to help us build, hope it won’t take another 10 years to build the employees accommodation,” the Minister remarked.
Mayor Maripe Mangena said: “Centres like this will enable our Municipality and district to limit criminal activities; I welcome all of you.”
Public Servants Association’s Limpopo Provincial Manager, John Teffo, welcomed the government’s efforts.
“We are excited about the extension because it will reduce overcrowding; hopefully the building will be maintained; the issue of understaffed hopefully the vacant posts will be filled by qualified personnel soon,” he said.
The Correctional Services Department reported a 38% overpopulation across the country’s prisons during the 2017/2018 financial year.
Public Works Deputy Minister Noxolo Kiviet acknowledged the newly conferred Dr Chief N’wamitwa, saying “we need leaders of her calibre.”
Chief N’wamitwa was conferred with the doctorate by the University of South Africa (Unisa) under the division of Law on the 13th of November 2020.
“I must go back to the office and fight vigorously to build and improve infrastructure as we enable Madiba’s wishes to care for our people; When you give dignity you have the potential to receive dignity in return,” Kiviet concluded.
Limpopo MEC for Transport and Community safety, Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya, said: “We really appreciate a facility of this nature as a province; this facility will challenge the inmates to change their ways; we are willing to work with you Minister.”
Minister Lamola emphasised the importance of accepting the inmates back into communities.
“We give them all sorts of training and skills development here but we don’t pay their university fees, their families should pay if they wish to study further, hopefully they will use this skills when they are released,” he said.
Chairperson of Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders Council, Kgoshi Dikgale, urged authorities to facilitate the reintegration of inmates.
“When you release these people you should introduce them to our chiefs, so we will know who they are and where to bury them.”
The furniture for the newly built centre was manufactured by inmates from Boksburg Correctional Centre’ Production workshop, Gauteng.
“The mask I am wearing was made by inmates, at least 32 000 masks had been made to date. Please give them work opportunities if you can. If we keep them busy here all day by the end of the day they will be too tired to plot anything even to think,” Lamola said.
Twenty awards were also designed from the same workshop which the Minister handed out to the dignitaries.
BACKGROUND FACTS ABOUT THE CENTRE:
– Head: Mr Nelson Nkhwashu
* The numbers:– Original Contract to build: 22 December 2009, 32 months
– The project stopped on the 03 rd December 2014, reason: the contractor
was liquidated. Progress was 92% complete
– Resumed, 2nd contract: 10 th January 2017. – Initial completion deadline: 10 September 2017,
– Actual completion date: 21 July 2020
– The inmates moved to the new facility on the 20 August 2020
– By the 18th November 2020 the inmates were 262, with 179 officials out of 260 required
– The new facility has 501 beds
– The cost is R335 851 768
* The Education:
– AET level 1-4 (GET); Skills Development
– TVET College Programmes
– Engineering Studies N1 – N3
– Skills Training Programmes
– Basic Computer Skills
– Fruit Production
– Vegetable Production
– Motor and Diesel Mechanics
– Farm Management
– Greenhouse Farming Project
* The Building– K-1 and K-2 housing units
– Kitchen and the dining hall
– Formal Education: classes and library
– Admission and Release block
– Visiting area
– Sports field