Khulisa designed the Justice and Restoration Project (JARP), a community-based mediation programme that was implemented in Orange Farm (Gauteng) and Mitchells Plain (Western Cape).
“Victims want the truth but they don’t want it sugar-coated. It is about offender accountability and victim satisfaction” – Prison social worker
“It was difficult to tell the truth, but wonderful when I did” – convicted murderer “I forgive you” – murder victim’s daughter
“Somehow I don’t feel like a victim any more” – victim of serious crime
Restorative Justice is an alternative response to crime and social disorder, through participation in resolving conflict and addressing its consequences.
Although a relatively new concept to the South African justice system, restorative justice is not a foreign concept to African indigenous methods of conflict resolution, with the traditional concept of Ubuntu as its foundation. The objective is to promote the healing of primary and secondary victims of crime, who are largely ignored by formal criminal justice systems. The restorative benefits of this process also assist in the rehabilitation of offenders, by giving them the opportunity to confront the human consequences of their actions.
Khulisa Social Services, in partnership with the Boksburg Department of Correctional Services, facilitated a highly successful pilot intervention, which mediated and promoted dialogue between victims and offenders in matters involving serious violent crimes.
An inter-disciplinary team of social workers, psychologists, community corrections officers and spiritual care workers attended a 5-day training workshop conducted by Khulisa’s RJ specialist. Only offenders who had specifically made a request to participate, were selected for the programme. Victims and their family members also agreed, despite a high degree of nervousness until the process had been explained to them.
Post-event assessment of the project has been universally positive. Prison social workers, who were initially sceptical, observed the benefits to all participants and now recommend the rollout of similar programmes nationwide.
Both offenders and victims expressed gratitude and asked that we continue with similar interventions. Many expressed the wish for more awareness of restorative justice and Victim
Offender Mediation in their communities.
“I never had an opportunity to hear what happened. It feels like a weight has dropped off my shoulders” – victim’s family member “I didn’t want him to be in prison. When he comes out I want peace. I want his younger siblings to look up to him. I want him to make a commitment to take hands and pull in the same direction as the rest of the family” – offender’s family member