Bid to stop suicide by prison officials

20091209 BMA regional Commissioner of Gauteng Advocate Thozama Mqobi-Balfour praising the Lord during spiritual revival service day for correctional services officials. The  Wellness Initiative was planned after the recent record shows that the department had a number of personnel who attempted to commit suicide and other died as a result of suicide. The initiative was held at the Boksburg prison, Ekurhuleni. PHOTO: BAFANA MAHLANGU
20091209 BMA regional Commissioner of Gauteng Advocate Thozama Mqobi-Balfour praising the Lord during spiritual revival service day for correctional services officials. The Wellness Initiative was planned after the recent record shows that the department had a number of personnel who attempted to commit suicide and other died as a result of suicide. The initiative was held at the Boksburg prison, Ekurhuleni. PHOTO: BAFANA MAHLANGU

THE Department of Correctional Services in Gauteng has improved measures to prevent suicide by correctional officers.

THE Department of Correctional Services in Gauteng has improved measures to prevent suicide by correctional officers.

The latest victim was former Moroka Swallows midfielder Joseph "Manelo" Rapelego, who was working at Krugersdorp prison. Rapelego shot himself last month.

Gauteng Regional Commissioner Tozama Mqobi held a spiritual revival prayer at Boksburg Prison on Wednesday to address the scourge of suicide.

The event with the theme "STOP! Do not kill yourself, we are here" was attended by religious leaders, financial advisers and motivational speakers.

In Gauteng 43 officers have died since January and 14 of them committed suicide. But the Department Correctional Services is refusing to release the number of officers who killed themselves nationwide.

Correctional Services spokesperson Phumzile Kotane promised to give Sowetan the statistics but later ignored our calls.

"The department has decided to take action. We cannot allow our people to die like this," Mqobi said. She said the department would partner religious and support groups to lend spiritual support to prisons staff in need.

Mqobi said officials faced marital, health and financial problems with the economical downturn making matters worse.

"We are going to filter counselling and motivation to every officer and each manager will continue to give assistance."

Mqobi said the department would create a conducive work environment because official have to be in a good state of mind when rehabilitating offenders.

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