Inmates keep turning over new leaf

Young South Africans who derive from poor townships need to stand their ground, know who they are and fulfil their purpose in life.

These motivational words were spoken by Lelethu Mkhunqwa (25), who was born in Cape Town and is currently incarcerated at the Tswelopele Correctional Centre.

He has become a proud member of the Kimberley Management Area’s book club and already sees a bright future in a career as motivational speaker.

Accor­ding to him, being part of the club will allow him to better himself and become more eloquent.

Mkhunqwa was among the 66 offenders of four centres (Kimberley, Tswelopele, Douglas and Barkly West) who participated in the Reading for Redemption management area competition on Wednesday (25/07) as the Kimberley Management Area team.

A total of 20 winners made it to the regional eliminations, and will compete at the Sol Plaatje University (SPU) from 13 to 15 August before proceeding to the national championship, held in George in October.

“I feel like I have not really put effort in becoming who I am supposed to be. But being part of the book club is my way of fulfilling that,” Mkhun­qwa said.

He admitted that it was his character that had landed him in prison.

“I only went to school, which was a special school, until Gr. 8, because I was very wayward and very rebellious.”

The competition saw the members competing in reading, book reviews and critical analysis, debating and spelling in at least nine of the 11 official languages.

According to Oduetse Malefo, centre principal, the competition is meant to promote skills in all the mentioned fields in order to enable offenders to master writing.

Mosetlhane Phayane, who delivered a motivational speech, applauded the programme as one of the positive strides made towards rehabilitation.

“We no longer need to lock them up and throw away the key,” Phayane said.

It was revealed that this year the programme incudes the adoption of ten St Boniface High School learners and ten SPU students, who will be trained to participate with their own groups at the national championship.