On 08 September National Book Week (NBW) paid a visit to the Boksburg Correctional Services, a correctional facility housing inmates who inspire change among each other.
The NBW Tour coincided with an inmates’ book clubs’ regional competition. The contest, which started five years ago, will see the regional winner compete in a national competition against other inmate book clubs in the Southern Cape town of George later in the year.
Fezile Sipamla, National Director for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture at Correctional Services, said the competition is a social calendar highlight for those involved in prison reading programmes.
“All 243 correctional facilities in the country have libraries on site, and for this competition they read and tell stories in whichever official language they choose. Access to a library is regarded as a basic need, and about 70% of prisoners regularly make use of it. Some use the library to study as they are undergoing formal education, and others are there to read for leisure or catch up on the news,” said Sipamla, adding that in the book clubs prisoners read and review books and also write their own short stories.
Inmates were thrilled to meet NBW ambassador, Stoan Seate, who gave a motivational talk, saying that the inmates could travel beyond the confines of their prison walls through the magic of reading.