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T Xasa: on the occasion of the signing of a MoU and adopting the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Facility
Speech by the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa, on the occasion of the signing of a MoU and adopting the Kgosi Mampuru

I greet you all in the spirit of Women’s Month. And this year has particular significance as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the historic march by scores of brave women who marched to the Union Buildings in protest of oppression. We owe it to ourselves to ensure that their legacy continues. And this is what fuels the fire in my belly to do more.

It is this very same passion that I share for the upliftment and empowerment of women that led to this event today. Allow me to share my journey with you. Today is a culmination of a working group established to look at “youth in conflict with the law.” This got me thinking, how can we as Tourism assist in alleviating this stigma? What can we as Tourism do to assist in helping offenders with their re-integration and at the same time use the tourism sector as a vehicle? We in the tourism sector are often faced with the reality of crime in our country. And while this does not reside in our portfolio, it has a huge impact on our visitors and subsequently the world’s perception of South Africa.

After visiting the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Facility and fuelled by my passion and based on their needs, I have decided to adopt this facility in my personal capacity as well as assist them through interventions from my department. This is with a particular focus on female offenders.

At this facility, records reflect that most female offenders are incarcerated for crimes based on economic reasons. So my question is, what are we doing to prepare them for re-integration into society? Can we possibly assist in in upskilling the for the hospitality sector? Can we show tourists that this is our way of combating the crime wave by developing the very skills in offenders that will assist to make this sector safe?

Tourism has been identified as a pillar of economic growth is a major economic sector of enterprise, and of job creation. I am therefore honoured to be here and for the opportunity to assist in addressing this mammoth task of Youth in Conflict with the Law, for allowing me to be an agent of change.

Academic and training pursuit in the Correctional Services space reinforces the fact that our nation has its priorities right. It demonstrates that we are a nation that has not shirked its responsibility to educate and groom the next generation of leaders in our communities and in our country who are considered to be lost. Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no doubt that without engaging in and making the necessary investments in the enterprise of education and training of offenders and ex-offenders, we will not allow our youth and women to take up their rightful place in our society.

After visiting the female offender section of this facility, it was apparent that the library was in dire need of an overhaul. This I hope to capacitate in my personal capacity.

As you have seen on our earlier excursion, there is an active production site here. I urge you to look at the opportunities for enhancement. For example, the bakery has outdated equipment. I applaud the facility for doing its best with what they have. The bakery currently services three prisons with bread daily. The garment section is not operational because of its non-operational equipment coupled with the lack of fabric. The auto and electrical workshops can benefit from SETA accreditation. The library infrastructure is not safe and subsequently conducive to learning. There is room for so much improvement.

My department offers a range of opportunities for hospitality. We passionately advocate Skills Development, Youth Development and Women in Tourism Projects within the Tourism Portfolio. These projects consist of numerous programmes at various stages of progress. Hereunder follows a glance at what these entail.

Skills Development

The Department of Tourism has several skills development programmes that involve women and youth in Tourism. This was established in order to provide women and youth with the skills necessary to follow their passion within the tourism and hospitality sector.

The Tourism Ambassador / Buddies Programme

The Department of Tourism implemented the first phase of the training with a budget of R39 million in 2011/2012. A total of 800 unemployed women and youth were enrolled into a 12 month training programme. Learners were trained in various skills programmes which fall under the Tourism and Hospitality sector, and these skills programmes were based on credits and accredited by CATHSSETA. The tourism ambassador programme consists of theoretical and experiential training.

The Sommelier (Wine Service Training)

A sommelier is an expert in fine wines and is usually found working in fine dining restaurants, hotels or wine estates. Not only is a sommelier knowledgeable about all aspects of wine, they are also experts at matching wines with food. South African wine has a proud history dating back to 1659 and it is now possible for the youth to be a part of this legacy by becoming a sommelier. The department has already trained 470 unemployed women and youth in the Wine Service Training Programme.

The Tourism Safety Monitors Project

This was a 12 month training programme which was first piloted in Gauteng (The Cradle of Humankind) area during the 2011/12 financial year. The project’s aim was to train 200 volunteers from the Department of Community Service database. The learners in this programme were trained in Tour Guide and Customer Service and were placed at various tourist attraction sites to work as tour guides whilst watching over the safety of the tourists who are visiting those attraction sites.

The Food Safety Assurers Programme

The Food Safety Assurers Programme is a scientific discipline aimed at handling, preparing, and storing food in ways that prevent food borne illnesses. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. As a pilot project in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Mpumalanga and Limpopo, (100) TVET hospitality and tourism unemployed graduates were trained and hosted as Food Safety Assurers (FSAs).

Professional Cookery (Chefs)

Research has also indicated a need for redress in the field as there are few people in this profession from the previously disadvantaged groups. The Department of Tourism implemented the first phase of the training of young people as Chefs in 2011. In that year, 800 unemployed women and youth were enrolled into a three year training programme in Professional Cookery and received a qualification at NQF 3 level, which is accredited by City and Guilds, and is also recognised by the cookery and food related sectors from small restaurants to large scale hotels.

Some of the spin-offs of the programmes can be seen in the success stories of young persons and women who attended and graduated from the Department’s skills development programmes:

  • Many of the graduates have attained permanent employment in the hospitality industry;
  • Learners with disabilities have also completed the Chefs programme successfully;
  • Some of the graduates are currently working in other countries such as Qatar;
  • Several learners have started their own businesses; and
  • The prohibitive cost barrier for entering into a career in tourism has been overcome through these programmes for women and youth into the vocation of their dreams. This is life changing, not only for the individuals in the programme, but for their communities, as well as their families. I need to mention and acknowledge there are six chefs that are assisting the offender chefs in preparing your meal today. They are graduates of our successful programme - our National Youth Chefs Programme implemented by the South African Chefs Association (SACA). They are the products of our programme.

The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding between my office and the National Applications Centre is an indication that responding to the needs of the Youth in Conflict with the Law is a societal responsibility and cannot be left to the Department of Correctional Service alone. The National Applications Centre (NAC) is a Youth Educational Development Organisation that serves as an implementing partner to the Department of Justice and Correctional Services, tasked with mobilising, funds, stakeholder support and participation in promoting the use of Education and Skills Development as part of the rehabilitation process.

The conclusion of this MoU will assist in providing support to the Department of Correctional Services through NAC by addressing the following:

  • Providing educational infrastructure within Correctional Centres through resource mobilisation.
  • Promoting Education and Skills Development oriented rehabilitation programmes.
  • Championing successful socio-economic reintegration of offenders through sustainable continuity programmes upon release/parole e.g. Co-operatives.
  • Transformation of offending behaviour/mind-set.
  • Addressing the re-offending rate.
  • Facilitation of employment creation.

I believe that some of the offenders will find their niches in the tourism and hospitality industry as well as others. As adopter of this facility, this is where I call on the collaborative participation of stakeholders in their various industries represented here today will assist in ensuring that we:

  • Contribute to poverty alleviation
  • Facilitate employment creation
  • Promote use of Education and Skills Development Training as part of rehabilitation
  • Transform societal attitudes, stigma and rejection towards offenders
  • Promote Safety and Security
  • Promote Social Cohesion
  • Create a better society

Through the mobilisation of our collective resources and collaboration, I believe we can take the bull by the horns in alleviating this scourge of Youth in conflict with the Law. The Great Martin Luther King Junior once wrote “The time is always right to do the right thing.” I therefore call upon you, Ladies and Gentlemen, to digest what is happening to our Youth and assist them to become better citizens. We owe it to them and to ourselves. We need to do everything possible to support the efforts and contributions that are being made by the Department of Correctional Services in the education and training arena.

It takes courage, determination and wisdom to serve your community and for that I am grateful. I’m confident that this partnership will bear fruitful results. I am also aware that the NAC is working on an action plan that will craft way forward immediately after this event and trust that stakeholders represented today will also be engaged to be part of that journey. In this spirit, I urge you to sign our pledge in support of this initiative.

I thank you.