The only cycling trip in the world where incarcerated youth cycle alongside free citizen youth and happened 25th to 29th of March 2019. The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment (TPA) has brought together 22 cyclists; 12 incarcerated youth, 2 youth from Die Herberg Kinderhuis and 8 leaders from Correctional Services (7) and Die Herberg Kinderhuis (1) to cycle 240 km through the Breede River Valley area in the Western Cape. Members of the South African Police Services and the Department of Correctional Services provided support throughout the week.
Youth crime is a reality in South Africa. Every night over fifty thousand young people, between the ages of 14 and 25, are sleeping in a prison or secure care centre. The Western Cape is key crime area for youth, with gangs having turned their attention to schools. Gang violence and robbery are rife and drug merchants can be found in many schools. The Western Cape Province has the highest rate of alcohol and drug related crime in South Africa.
The BCC cycle tour is the vision of Award Leader IK Swart;
“I have the privilege of working with young offenders that are coming from challenging backgrounds; I am committed to rehabilitating them through the Award programme, enabling them to see life in a different light and assist them in making informed decisions.”
– IK Swart, Robertson Correctional Centre Official and President’s Award Leader
The group cycled through the Langeberg region; stopping at Vinkrivier Primary School, McGregor Skills Centre, McGregor Lig Huis, and Klaasvoogds Primary School bringing with them a positive stand against crime. The BCC participants spoke directly about the choices they are now making that will allow them to leave prison better prepared to lead purposeful, productive lives and become active, responsible citizens.
“I have been doing the Award for the past three years. I am part of change, I am part of empowerment, I am part of innovation and I am part of social justice. This initiative brings us as inmates and the community together to make a change; this week we spoke to youth and children from different communities about the dangers of crime.”
- Awande Mshotana, Worcester Correctional Centre and 2019 BCC participant
Within Correctional Centres, the Award is used as a rehabilitation tool and compliments the White Paper on Corrections. The Break the Cycle of Crime initiative assists with reintegration of young offenders back into their communities.
“I would like to see change in our society. We need to transform our communities and to have less crime. The President’s Award can break the cycle of crime in communities by creating opportunities for youth to be engaged in positive activities like sport, service, adventure and skills development which can change their lives. If it changed me, in prison, I know it can change young people in the community as well." - Monwabisi Nteyiya, President’s Award Gold Award recipient from Robertson Correctional Centre and 2015 BCC participant
The President’s Award was first introduced to correctional centres in 1994 by President Nelson Mandela. Since then over 40 000 inmates have enrolled on the Award, over 30 correctional centres actively implement the Award. Break the Cycle of Crime is geared toward addressing the drivers of high risk behaviour amongst youth in the most marginalised communities through face to face interaction as participants from diverse backgrounds engage in a challenging cycling expedition of personal discovery and growth. It also addresses issues of re-integration of offenders back into society upon release.
“TPA through its non-formal framework has proven itself to be a great rehabilitation tool for young offenders, thus the best tool to break the cycle of crime. The project allows youth from diverse backgrounds to do activities together over a consistent period of time; allows young people to realize that they are not defined by their socio-economic status or difference, but by the value they add in the lives of others,”
- Nkagare Makhudu, Chief Executive Officer at The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment
TPA creates opportunities for young people to develop character, discover their purpose and determine their future to contribute towards building a great South Africa. The Award Programe targets 14-24 year olds across the socio-economic spectrum, from public and private schools, children’s homes, correctional centres, tertiary institutions, etc. The Award provides a framework for non-formal education and has set guiding principles, with proven outcomes for young people who complete the Award.