AS PART of crime prevention week, Inguqu Development Foundation arranged for high school pupils from Nelson Mandela Bay to visit the Kirkwood correctional services facility.
This was an initiative to get 60 children from Newell, St Thomas, Gelvandale and Motherwell high schools to experience life in prison and also listen to those who had gone through this experience.
Speaking at the event yesterday, Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla said South African prisons held about 170 000 prisoners and 70% were below the age of 39.
“Drugs and alcohol abuse have been identified as things that leads to crime.
“Drug addiction is like a chronic disease that is hard to cure. Make sure that you do not abuse opportunities you get in life. You should also be careful of negative peer pressure as that is what underpins bullying in our schools.
“Once you associate yourselves with bullies there is a good chance you will end up behind bars,” Makwetla said.
Founder of Inguqu Development Foundation and exinmate Siyanda Mtulu said: “ We want these kids to refrain from doing crime. They should make the right choices about their lives.
“I am sure after the prison tour no one wants to spend their lives behind bars.”
Former journalist Mzuyanda Gotywa, 40, who is serving 10 years for rape and fraud, said prison was a very dark, lonely and miserable place.
“I am a qualified journalists because my parents took me to some of the best schools but I am in prison today.
“I made the wrong choices. In prison you have to constantly look over your shoulder. Inmates rape and sodomise each other. There is a big chance that when you leave the prison you would be infected with HIV. Be very careful of the choices you make in life or you will end up where I am,” Gotywa said.
Farron Langford, 24, who is serving five years for robbery, drugs and theft, said she was addicted to drugs at the age of 13.
“Life was unfair and I looked for love in the wrong places. I have learned that crime does not pay but it will give you two ends, prison or death. Finish your studies and choose your friends wisely. You still have a bright future ahead,” she said.
The pupils were given an opportunity to tour the prison. Phumlani Qeru, 20, from Motherwell High School said they had learnt a lot.
“It is very scary inside there. It feels like the end of the world. Today I have learnt that education is the key and negative peer pressure is not good as it destroys one’s future,” he said.