MOHALE’S HOEK – Crime prevention Rehabilitation and Reintegration of ex-offenders Association (CRROA) yesterday toured two villages in Mohale’s Hoek district to share their stories of rehabilitation and sensitise the communities on crime prevention. CRROA is a grouping of ex-offenders whose focus is on crime prevention and the rehabilitation of convicts.
They also assist in the reintegrating of released offenders into their respective communities. A member of the association, Khoaele Thinyane, said during the tour that “the purpose of starting this association was primary to educate those who haven’t been to prison about the consequences of being imprisoned. “This thought came to us while we were still in prison and we realised the rate at which young men were being sentenced for crimes that could have been avoided.”
Thinyane said he was sentenced to life imprisonment after he shot a person dead while on duty as a police officer. He added that he was later released after he went to court to appeal his sentence. “Our primary message is to encourage people to repent from criminal acts. As we speak from experience about the consequences of illegal acts, our hope is that our voices will be heard as we mainly speak to these young men who are notorious for illegal acts such as rape, house robberies, killings and more,” Thinyane noted.
Speaking to Public Eye, CRROA Social Worker, Hlompho Ntheola, said with the help of the association respective villagers and families are able to welcome back the ex-offenders even though it takes a while, but eventually they feel free.
Asked what informed this particular visit in the district, Ntheola said, “it was with the help of the District Administrator’s office that these two villages, Ha Nkhetheleng and Holy Cross, were chosen. “We as CRROA selected the Mohale’s Hoek district because we realised that the crime rate, especially murder, is escalating in these areas and we felt a need to curb it while it starts.”
An ex-prisoner residing in Ha Nkhetheleng, Ntili Khumalo, said his experience in prison was bad. “Some people like to be in prison but they don’t know what it is that they wish for because they have never been in, but if they could be in, they will know how to co-exist peacefully with other people,” said Khumalo, adding that CRROA’s visit might influence change in the village. He also said that the most notorious crimes in the village are house break-ins.
Chief Molomo Molomo, of Ha Nkhetheleng, said he wished for CRROA to return to the village. “We wish to invite them (CRROA) again so that next time we call a bigger gathering where more young men will be present, including those who have a bad reputation in the village so that they hear for themselves,” Chief Molomo noted.
In Holy Cross village, councillor Tšeliso Mvelase agreed that indeed the crime rate in the area had risen as his village was similarly growing fast. He called for help from law enforcement agencies. Mvelase continued, “This very last night, there was a rascal knocking on people’s doors, one could sense that he was drunk, so as he was knocking if you say come in, he runs away. What is that?”
Mvelase further noted that sometimes it’s hard to deal with criminals as they flee to the Republic of South Africa after committing crimes. He also noted that each day there were reports of crime in Holy Cross with the most reported being rape, house-breaking and theft.
Speaking to villagers during the visit in both villages yesterday, the area chief, Sekhonyana Bereng, encouraged the villagers to report criminal acts and stop being fearful. He said if people were reluctant to report crime, criminals will soon own the villages. He thanked members of CRROA for the awareness campaign and said he believes that there will be change.