15 inmates and three prison officers yesterday graduated with certificates at the Chikurubi Maximum Prison after completing a Nursery, Seedling and Orchard Management and Production Course facilitated by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) Harare Metropolitan Province with support from TelOne.
In his remarks during the graduation, TelOne Acting Managing Director Engineer Lawrence Nkala said the program will be useful to inmates after they are back in the community.
“We are positive that the programme has equipped our graduands with the knowledge and skills that will be useful as the inmates re-integrate into society after serving their respective sentences. It is indeed a plus for us as Telone as this programme has enabled us to play a meaningful role and impact this usually forgotten prison community,” he said.
One of the graduates, Wendy Nyathi said the program will transform her life after serving her sentence as she would not have gotten the same chance on the outside.
“I am happy to be here because when I was outside I didn’t have this opportunity. I would like to extend my gratitude to TelOne for giving us an opportunity to learn new skills that will sustain us when we get out of this place. So I’m so grateful. I wish you could continue doing this for many others like me who are in this place so that they have a better future.
“I also implore you not to only consider inmates but others outside as well. Many children are trapped into taking drugs so you may assist by teaching them life skills,” she noted.
Another inmate, Davison Makovere said the program helped in his rehabilitation program and he seeks to further enhance it when he is back in the community.
When I was convicted I felt helpless but my uncles from ZPCS comforted me and now I’m very happy about this program. Thanks to TelOne for organising this program which will go a long way in benefiting us and others where we come from. This will also help us in our economy since Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy,” Makovere said.
He, however, expressed concern over the discrimination that ex-convicts face upon release as they are not afforded the same opportunities as everyone.
“Despite the rehabilitation, we have gone through, there is a tendency by some employers to discriminate against us and stigmatise us which is our biggest outcry to responsible authorities. We are not asking for fish, we are asking for a fishing rod so that we can do it our way, and that is what TelOne did for us, we implore everyone to follow suit,” he added.
TelOne has to date spent about USD20 000 on the programme. Eng. Nkala added: “The project comes from this deep conviction in our role as environmental stewards, which has seen environmental management standing out as a key pillar in our Corporate Social Investment programming informed by Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action.”
The ceremony coincides withTelOne’s belated National Tree Planting Day Commemorations.
Eng Nkala noted that TelOne will withdraw from the nursery. 20,000 will be distributed to 200 schools across all the country’s provinces.