But his incarceration turned to be a blessing in disguise. Prison became a place of empowerment and social reintegration rather than punishment.
Mawoyo was unemployed and had failed to raise funds to attend college. He did a carpentry course while in prison. “Thank God, my jail term turned out to be miracle. I am proud to have acquired life skills and employment – something I could not have achieved outside prison,” he said.
“First I took it lightly but later on I discovered that it was an opportunity for me to start my career. I am happy that ZPS has transformed from an institution for punishing offenders to give skills for livelihood sustenance,” said Mawoyo.
He and other ex-offenders are now permanent employees at Border Timbers International, a company that works with the Zimbabwe Prison Service to rehabilitate inmates who have taken up some courses whilst they are serving jail terms.
Inmates are attached at the company`s Nyakamete factory in Mutare where they earn a salary every month.
Seventeen inmates have benefitted from the programme since its inception in 2010 and 10 inmates are attached on a full salary. ZPS Rehabilitation Coordinator, Thembani Ndlovu said the programme, a first for Zimbabwe, seeks to assist in the rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates back into society.
“Before an inmate is incorporated into the programme we look at discipline and ability for the inmate to socialize with others. Those who were convicted for murder and rape are not eligible. At the moment we are focusing on those who are serving short sentences,” he said.
BTL Managing Director, Douglas Dell, said the rehabilitation of offenders was not the sole responsibility of ZPS alone but of society at large.
Fungai Saunyama served a 16-month jail term for assault but is now permanently employed at BTL. He said such programmes must be supported and urged more companies to follow BTL’s lead. “Going to jail is not the end of the world. There is life after prison and rehabilitation and integration programme has removed stigma against ex inmates. After serving my sentence I am now able to look after my family well,” said Saunyama.Post published in: News