These men have vision

PETER Maake and Thabo Merakeng were about to succumb to the recidivism bug when they decided to form Ex-Prisoners Against Crime and Abuse.

PETER Maake and Thabo Merakeng were about to succumb to the recidivism bug when they decided to form Ex-Prisoners Against Crime and Abuse.

Recidivism is the repeated or habitual relapse into crime or a chronic tendency towards the repetition of criminal or socially unacceptable behaviour.

Both men had just been released from the Rooigrond Correctional Services Centre outside Mmabatho, North West. Th ey had served 10 and 13 years.

"Because we had rehabilitated ourselves in prison we were able to resist returning to crime and decided to start a movement for ex-prisoners," Maake says.

Started in March 2008, the EPACAA is fighting to keep the youth out of prison.

"Having trained as boxers, Maake and I think alike and our joint efforts have resulted in growing our nonprofit organisation to 27 members in North West," Merakeng says.

"We conduct motivational talks and participate in moral regeneration campaigns and interdenominational youth development seminars and events."

Maake says the EPACAA has visited more than 160 schools in North West. They have been invited to speak at anti-crime motivational and skills development sessions at schools and youth centres in Gauteng, Free State and other parts from 2010.

"We have acquired a piece of land the size of a soccer field where we are starting an agricultural commune through which we will be able help the destitute," Maake says.

The EPACAA distributes food parcel to the needy, thanks to the local Pick n Pay supermarket.

"We have started netball and soccer teams and use drama, music, poetry and dance to educate the youth about the folly and futility of crime," Maake says.

"We are also promoting the same anti-crime message through sport, arts and culture at local correctional facilities because recidivism is real and cannot be underestimated."

l Merakeng was interviewed during the inaugural Sowetan and Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation-supported North West Family Fun Day event in October. and Maake was interviewed at the weekend.

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