The morning of the 2nd of July 2019 our high school cadets, with their rangers met at the Atteridgevile Community Hall to go on a trip to the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre facilities. The cadets were filled with excitement and a bit of fear of the unknown.
Upon arrival we were met by two wardens who were going to be our tour guides for the day. They took us through the museum which was filled with historical artifacts of the prison, uniforms and different types of objects found in prison including contraband.
After the museum tour we were sat down and briefed on what to expect inside the cells and how we should conduct ourselves. We then proceeded to the female side of the prison which holds convicted inmates together with the awaiting trail candidates.
“What I learnt at Kgosi Mampuru is that in life you need to know that crime does not pay. We must always know the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Don’t do things to make your friends happy” – Thato Kokelo (Grade 8)
Once inside the cells, we got to see the living conditions of inmates which were unfavourable. They were cramped up in a small space with bank beds and lockers with no ventilation. They have small windows and due to everyone smoking, it causes stuffiness. The high walls, floor and ceiling are made from concrete making the cells extremely cold.
“What I have learnt at Kgosi Mampuru II Prison is that we should choose friends wisely and also not take matters into our own hands that may bring us into a tough situation where no one can help us and also associate ourselves with people who are loyal” – Moraba Seshoka (Grade 10)
We got the opportunity to have a talk with some of the prisoners where we could ask questions about their life in prison. They all spoke about how tough life inside prison is and how limited your rights are. They expressed how they miss the little things they would take for granted outside prison like walking in a garden and smelling flowers.
After the female visit, we went to the male’s section which holds the awaiting trail candidates. We were introduced to 3 juveniles who told us their reasons why they were arrested. Their stories included armed robbery, rape, kidnapping and murder. The message they had for us was that we should not give in to peer-pressure as it is the reason why they committed the crimes they did. They added that we should listen to our elder because they know better and only want what’s best for us.
The experience put everything into perspective not only for the cadets but the rangers too. The biggest lesson that was learnt on the day was that crime does not pay and that every action has its consequences. After talking to the cadets they all had the same mindset of nothing comes easy in life and that you have to work hard for everything they want.
“What I have learnt is crime doesn’t pay and do not trust friends too much because they might put you in trouble and listen to your friends” – Boitumelo Mahlabela (Grade 10)
“What I learnt at Kgosi Mampuru is that in life we must depend or rely on ourselves and we must know what we want and what we want to achieve, also know were we are going. We must respect our adults and listen to them because they know that life is not easy, and it comes with challenge” – Shadie Mbelengwa ( Grade 8)