ANON – a Chance to Change offender, 2011

Firstly, I would like to thank NICRO for allowing me this opportunity to talk about myself.

My nightmare started about four years ago. My mother was diagnosed with dementia after a stroke. My husband had met the wrong friends and started using tik. I had just discovered that I was pregnant with my 2nd child. My family has never supported me in any way since my mom got ill.

Financially and emotionally I was in a total mess. I had so many expenses that need to be covered especially since I had to have someone full time looking after my mom. I was the sole bread winner in the household because my husband by that time had left whenever he felt like it. I had started frauding monies to help with my monthly expenses. The company had laid a charge against me and I admitted to what I have done. After explaining my situation to the court I was so lucky that the magistrate had given me a suspended sentence. I had made the worst mistake in my entire life. I had before felt so depressed that I often thought I wanted to commit suicide but God had given me a second chance now and it was up to me to fix it. I battled for the two years now even getting to my community service on Sundays as I always had to look for someone to look after my mom. But I made it.

I started attending the NICRO programme. At first I thought this is a waste of time. But believe me I was surprised at what I have learnt there. I have never thought and never realized that I was physically fine but emotionally and mentally I needed help. NICRO’s social worker made me understand so much about myself and how to deal with my problems that I have always hidden and never spoken out. I had always just blocked out the bad things about my life but never knew how to deal with them. I have learned to deal with various situations also that as hard as you try you can never change people. For years I have been praying and trying to change my sister but could not because she does not want to change. I have learnt that we have to make the right CHOICES to better our lives. The choices I make are the ones that will forever reflect on my life. Then I want to take on CHALLENGES. And if I take on the challenges I will get to my goals.

Then there is the Correctional Services. The correctional officers have encouraged me such a lot. Whenever they do there visits they would always congratulate me in doing so well by staying clear of violations also encouraging me in keeping my record clear with them. Always asking me about my mom and how she’s doing and even how I was doing. If I need to talk I can just pop in and that made me feel warm and that there are people out there that really do care about me. You know that since I attended this lifeskills programme at NICRO I have become so different. I’m not that stressed anymore and also whenever I get to situations that make me angry, frustrated especially with my family. I was worried at how people judge me today knowing that I have a criminal record. Also going out for jobs and they see you have a criminal record and they say no there’s no jobs. NICRO and the notes that I took whilst there helps me. I always go back to what I have learnt there.

I have set goals for myself whilst at NICRO and today I am proud to say that I have achieved a lot. Firstly I got my mom in a day-care centre that deals with Alzheimer’s people. Since I received my sentence the company that I worked for has not paid me cents even my last salary and leave monies. I would like to find out are they allowed to do that to me. The wage clerk kept on telling me that they were going to sort me out after my sentence is completed with my UIF documents etc after phoning her on numerous occasions. I am also currently waiting on an answer from the Council as I have applied for a subsidy so that I can buy my mom’s house and utilize the monies on her and her needs.

I have already started submitting my CV’s to companies for a job. I would however like to open my own company one day as I am also doing research on that. I am also proud that I have completed my community services successfully with a great thank you from the staff at the ——- Old Age Home. Also that I have now reached my Phase 4 stage with the Correctional Board without any violations.

By getting a suspended sentence I thank God for giving me a second chance so that I could better my life. I have done wrong and that is something I am not proud of. It will stay with me for the rest of my life. But I thank the magistrate too for not sending me to prison. What would have happened to me?

I have met ladies that have been jailed and today cannot settle in the outside world. They don’t even know how to handle there own kids. The kids don’t know them. I wish that there could be more opportunities for others to be able to get a sentence like I have so that they too could attend programmes like these. You know sometimes jail don’t rehabilitate people. We can. We just need help each other with a shoulder to lean on and someone to talk to.

Once again thank you NICRO, the correctional services and the programme that has helped me change my Life. (Testimony from a Chance to Change offender 2011)

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