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Members of LACAP

Most people rarely get to spend a morning with convicted murderers, rapists, and other serious criminals – let alone ones that are really striving to make a positive difference by apologizing and trying to atone for their deeds whilst incarcerated under the harsh conditions of a South African prison.  Last week some of the GRCF staff got to spend just such a morning however, as we were invited to hear about a project some members of the maximum security correctional center in Losperfontein (Brits) had started.

In August of 2008 a young man named Sedumedi Augustinus Radibe realized that his life had effectively been ruined due to his commission of several criminal acts that had landed him in prison.  He had caved in to peer pressure and circumstance and had made a series of bad choices that he now deeply regretted and wished he could do something about.  Sedumedi also realized that like him, many of the youth outside of prison are a part of environments that make it really easy to make those bad choices, especially when they do not really understand the consequences of a life of crime. If the youth could just be shown the realities of this life, perhaps they would be less likely to commit crimes themselves, he thought.  Sedumedi decided that although he was now in prison, this did not mean that he could not do something good for society and thus the Losperfontein Anti-Crime Awareness Project (LACAP) was born.

Crafts Made by the Prisoners

In talking to his fellow inmates, Sedumedi soon found that there were others who were similarly remorseful but who felt they had few options.  Marshalling them together, along with prison staff and community workers, there was soon a good group of people dedicated to moving LACAP forward.

The main purpose of LACAP is to raise anti-crime awareness by taking part in campaigns and by inviting youth to come to prison and see the consequences of crime first hand.  In addition to this however, LACAP is trying to give the prisoners other options than just hardening themselves further, by helping them make various crafts and giving them a chance to do something positive.  LACAP hopes they can sell these items in order to build a new school for Losperfontein Primary – which they have adopted and sent uniforms and shoes to already.  In the future LACAP also hopes they can get enough funding to start a halfway house and help prisoners who get out of prison actually have a real shot at a new life away from crime, rather than giving them few options but to reoffend as is the case now.

LACAP banner

All in all, it was an illuminating morning and GRCF will soon go back for a full day business planning session as we think this project has a lot of promise and potential in the fight against crime.  As the prisoners each told their stories of how they had ended up in jail, we all became aware of how easily that could have been any one of us had we been exposed to those life circumstances.  Despite this, the choices were still the inmates’ own and they know that circumstance and peer pressure do not excuse their actions. Nor will it reduce their sentences.  They also realize however, that this does not mean they cannot still change their lives and do some good even from behind prison walls. The LACAP members are now trying to do that in the best way they can – by trying to save others from following the same paths that had led them to where they are now.

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