Plans to support child offenders

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The Mpumalanga Department of Social Services will no longer keep awaiting-trial minors in police holding cells.

According to MEC William Lubisi, the department would increase the intake of children awaiting trial at the Hendrina Secure Care Centre by providing 35 to 60 beds a year to accommodate a total of 420 detainees.

Lubisi said: "We will also appoint additional assistant probation officers and volunteer assistant probation officers."

He said these "semi-professional" officials would provide home-based supervision services, awareness and diversion programmes for children at risk and those who end up on the wrong side of the law.

Lubisi said his department would explore the possibility of increasing the number of secure care centres in the province in line with a new approach to infrastructure planning, delivery and maintenance.

He said they would also participate in a nationwide fight against crime by working within the criminal justice forums, strengthening crime prevention programmes and ensuring children were diverted away from prisons.

"Children will be assessed and referred to programmes such as the diversion and home-based supervision projects," Lubisi added.