Life of crime can be stopped

Fear Free Life (FFL) is a non-profit organisation (NPO) based in Bertrams.

The NPO objective is to use the experience of its founding member, an ex-offender, to assure the community that there is always a turning point in one’s life, and that crime and gangsterism are a scourge to be tackled by society.

The NPO was founded by a reformed gang member at Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre in Venda in July 2005.

“The organisation established a Johannesburg operation when its founding president, Collen Khumalo, was transferred from Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre to Johannesburg Medium B Correctional Centre,” said FFL marketing manager Tshepo Dlamini.

Dlamini said the branch at Johannesburg Medium B Correctional Centre now carries the status of National Cadre Development Centre.

“There was a general consensus that crime, gangsterism, drugs and substance abuse hinder human and economic development.”

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Dlamini said FFL members work hard to address gangsterism and crime from the perspective of those who have walked the walk.

“The organisation’s focus is to also address the high levels of recidivism in the prison system. Training courses are conducted by ex-offenders who are members of FFL. They have identified places of learning to help vulnerable communities.

“Our main strategy is to create behavioural change in people involved in gangsterism and crime, or are at the risk of entering a life of crime. We administer moral regeneration and personal development programmes to equip inmates with skills that will enable them to make better choices.

“We act as a facilitator in assisting to find accommodation and employment for former inmates upon their release from prison (halfway houses). We also create a conducive environment for rehabilitation and transformation in all correctional facilities by working hand in hand with correctional officers,” he said.

“Fear Free Life has been quality assured to operate in six regions by the Department of Correctional Services.”

The organisation operates at Kutama Sinthumule Maximum, Johannesburg Management Area, Leeuwkop Medium C Prison, Boksburg Management Area, Baviaanspoort Management Area, Krugersdorp Management Area, Modderbee Management Area and Kgosi Mampuru Management Area.

“Great strides have been made to gain entry into schools, and we operate in 22 schools in Gauteng.

“The NPO has already begun to work in all correctional facilities, community correction and surrounding communities across the country. It volunteers its skills through the provision of workshops. We also offer crime and gangsterism prevention courses in communities and learning centres. This is to ensure that community members and learners are directly responsible for crime prevention,” he said.

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Fear Free Life is now in partnership with the SAPS, with the police referring troubled youth involved in criminal or gang activities to the organisation for counselling.

“Our intervention in various institutions has assisted troubled youth. We strive to improve them academically using our flagship programmes. Barnato Park High School, Jeppe High School and the University of the Witwatersrand are among the educational institutions we collaborate with,” said Dlamini.

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