Leewukop Juvenile Centre Visit

Palesa ‘Deejay’ Manaleng
Wits Justice Project went on a tour of Leewukop prison, which was originally a farm. The land is still being used for farming purposes to provide food for the inmates and warders who live there.
We started our assessment of the libraries by visiting the Juvenile section which houses about 502 young men who are under the age of 21 years. Once they turn 21 years of age they are transferred to a youth facility which caters for young adults between the ages of 21 and 25 years, beyond the age of 25, the inmates are put with the adults.

There is a full time school program which is not compulsory; therefore only 70 out of the 502 boys attend school. With the reading for redemption launch by Sibusiso Ndebele, Wits Justice Project has been visiting prison libraries, looking at how well they are being used, do the library’s stock up on daily newspapers and how easily do inmates access the library.
The Leewukop youth centre library is kept under lock and key, it is a cell that has been converted into a library, as you enter you walk past a toilet facing a shower to find on your immediate left a door into the library, full of dust. The offenders need to ask for the library to be opened but they never do that, because they have no interest in learning says Busisiwe Siluma the section head at the Leewukop youth centre.
At first glimpse one can see tertiary level books, mostly business management, economics and engineering books, unfortunately most of the boys don’t have matric others barely have a grade8 and the choice of books they are given do not cater for their needs. There is a small section of books in other official languages and those books are in Northern Sotho (sepedi), IsiZulu and Venda. The is a wide range of Afrikaans books, with books like the Wetenskapbeelde in die Geestwetenskappe (Conceptions of Social Inquiry) and HSRC series in methodology which should not be in in the Juvenile section.
There were even books on the women’s health but nothing to entice young boys to come to the library to read, there isn’t a librarian which might also be the reason why the library is locked most of the time. ‘What we need is a librarian who can work here full time, I don’t have time to tend to the library’, sighs Siluma. Hopefully with the Reading for redemption initiative, the will be books suited for the young men and a librarian who can work with their individual needs and therefore motivating them to read.


About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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