Inmates from Pollsmoor and Goodwood correctional centres will perform in a theatre production, in an effort to disrupt the dominant narrative around ex-offenders and prison life.
The Together Against Crime Festival will take place at the Artscape Theatre and is hosted by the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) and other organisations.
The cast members wrote the script and will perform it themselves.
The play unpacks the socially invisible world of prison life, the impact of incarceration, and harsh realities that inmates face in prison.
In addition to the play, titled 'The Making of a Criminal’, the three-day event will include an art exhibition, craft and painting workshops, and performances from several prison bands, dancers and other community groups.
Nicro's Belinda Bowling says that the festival is an attempt to change the retributive attitudes towards criminal justice.
We think if we lock people up in prison, it's going to solve the problem. But criminal stats show very clearly that that approach isn't working.— Belinda Bowling, Head of Resource Mobilisation at Nicro
In South Africa, the unofficial rate of criminals re-offending ranges somewhere between 65-85%, she claims.
Bowling explains that Nicro uses such initiatives to investigate the social problems that are underpinning what she calls the tsunami of criminal actives in the country.
She says that art therapy has worked successfully as a form of rehabilitation in South Africa and role-players must continue exploring alternative means.
It's very therapeutic to allow them to confront their past.— Belinda Bowling, Head of Resource Mobilisation at Nicro
Listen to the full conversation from The Pippa Hudson Show: