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Staff Reporter

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has praised a Kroonstad prison for donating dignity packs to needy school girls around the town saying the initiative will help them spend more time in class.

He said the girls, most of whom come from very poor households, often miss school during their menstrual periods as they cannot afford sanitary towels, among other basics.

Lamola said this when he officiated at a handover ceremony for dignity packs produced by inmates at the Bizzah Makhate Correctional Centre for women in Kroonstad.

“This is a very important initiative that will go a long way in restoring the dignity of the girl child,” the minister said.

“Most poor families do not afford to buy sanitary towels for their daughters.

“Economic hardships dictate to these families to prioritise necessities such as food over sanitary towels.

“There is a competing interest in families whether to buy sanitary towels or a loaf of bread.”

The correctional centre has partnered with Old Mutual which donated sewing machines and other equipment used in the project.

About 100 girls were chosen to receive the packages but only a few were allowed to attend the event at the prison in line with the COVID-19 protocols.

“It is estimated that about 3.7 million girls are unable to afford sanitary pads,” Lamola said.

“Research conducted by the Stellenbosch University found that 30 percent of learners in South Africa are missing school while menstruating.

“So, this programme . . . is going to reduce the number of girls who miss school.

“It’s an ecosystem because if you reduce the number of girls who miss school . . . it means we are going to have many more girls completing matric and who also have a chance of getting employed.

“It also reduces the level of crime, economic depression and social instability.”

The minister also urged communities to ensure the boy child is also empowered in order to have self-esteem and not believe that the only way challenges in life can be resolved is through violence.

“There are other ways through which solutions can be found. Violence is not the only solution that we can use to resolve our problems,” he told the gathering.

Old Mutual regional manager Silas Siboloane said his company will be donating a further four sewing machines to the Kroonstad correctional centre.

The machines are used to produce garments for the inmates as well as the 1 400 boxer shorts that were also donated to the girls.

“We want to be active participants towards social growth. It’s important for businesses to rethink their relationship with the communities in which they operate,” Siboloane said.

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