Precious Manomano Herald Reporter
Continuous penalisation of ex-prison inmates through denying them an opportunity to re-join the community should be addressed since such behaviour is responsible for the relapse of some inmates into criminal activities, an ex-prisoner has said.
Mr James Kaware (42) of Queensdale, Harare, who served 10 years at Chikurubi Maximum Prison for armed robbery, has turned his life around and is dedicated to assist ex-prisoners with life skills through the Prodigal Sons and Daughters programme.
Mr Kaware discouraged stigma and discrimination that most ex-prisoners go through, describing the act as degrading, and eventually promoting criminal activities.
“Former inmates acquire skills and training so that they start income generating projects or social life skills because most of the ex-prisoners have suffered stigma from their relatives and have nowhere to go,” said Mr Kaware.
Mr James Kaware recently made an appeal for US$600 to pay fees at Gwebi Agricultural college to enable some of his former inmates to get training in farming.
He said former prisoners have struggled to find employment upon release from jail, which at times pushes them back into a life of crime.
Mr Kaware himself was convicted several times but the ZPCS rehabilitation programmes has transformed him.
He was homeless and lived along Mukuvisi river bank after his family disowned him and the society failed to accept him.
“Upon release, no one wanted to talk to me or interact with me.
“I faced serious stigma to such an extent that l decided to live alone at Mukuvisi river bank,” he said.
“I am also appealing to all well-wishers who can provide us with any form of assistance so that we can help the ex-prisoners who have nowhere to go.
“They need a proper home, blankets, food, their children need to go to school. So l am appealing for financial assistance to continue supporting ex-prisoners,” he said.
An ex prisoner, Ms Precious Sibanda (27), said she was receiving support from Mr Kawara’s organisation after being rejected by her husband and family.
She was convicted of attempted murder after assaulting her then 10-year-old son when some money went missing in the home.
“Upon my release from prison, no one wanted to talk to me and l had no one to turn to.
“My family disowned me at a time I needed them most and my husband packed his clothes and went away after telling me that we cannot continue staying together,” she said.
Prodigal Sons and Daughters is an organisation that deals with the rehabilitation and supporting ex-prisoners.
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) recently launched a Peace Education Programme that seeks to address mental aspects of inmates.
The programme seeks to help inmates achieve inner peace, which will help them live harmoniously with others after their re-integration into society.