Awaiting-trial youth take time out

MORE than 1000 awaiting-trial juveniles and young men celebrated youth month at the Pretoria local prison yesterday. The youths aged between 14 and 25 filled a hall in the Pretoria local correctional centre (New Lock) to celebrate the month dedicated to the youth.

Some of the inmates committed crimes including murder, theft, robbery and rape. For a few hours the young men forgot that they were in prison as they danced to kwaito.

Speakers highlighted the importance of fighting crime and getting an education.

"You don't hear much about awaiting-trial prisonors who are not exposed to rehabilitation programmes," said Director Koos Gerber, the head of Pretoria Central Prison.

"The department created a new directorate to deal with issues of remand detention to make sure we take care of them with personal well-being, medical care, proper nutrition and access to family and lawyers."

Gerber said the youth do not belong in prison but in schools where they can be looked after by their families. Most of the remand youth stay in prison for six to nine months before their cases go to court.