ZIMBABWE PRISONS AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICE (ZPCS) has turned this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) into a centre stage for inmates to exhibit different products they produced from different rehabilitation products on offer in different prisons countrywide.
These products on exhibition are meant to give members of the public an opportunity to have full appreciation of what really is involved in the rehabilitation and re-integration of an inmate back into society.
In an interview, Ndaba Moyo (45), who is an inmate serving his nine-year jail term at Khami Medium Prison, said he never thought ZPCS was going to change his life from being a gold panner into a farmer.
“Before I came to prison, I was into gold panning in Filabusi and that was my source of livelihood as I had no other source of income to take good care of my family as I am a father of two.
“Things later got out of hand when I was arrested in the company of my business partner as they caught us in possession of 15 grammes of gold without the necessary paperwork to transport the precious metal,” he said.
Moyo said the duo was found guilty of unlawfully transporting the precious metal and later sentenced to nine years in prison.
“When I ventured into mining it was not by choice but the situation on the ground pushed me because of poverty as I could not sit and watch while my kids starve to death. I never thought this trade could land me in this place as I used to tell myself that I was living an honest life.
“The police officers who caught us in possession of gold took our matter to court and we were told that we were actually stealing from the State and thus they decided to send us to prison for nine years,” he said.
The inmate said when he got to Khami Remand Prison he never thought he was going to adjust to the new environment as he was a first offender but with time, he got to understand that he had stolen from the State and it was time to pay back for the sins.
“When we arrived at the prison from Filabusi I never thought I was going to live in prison for the next nine years without seeing my family but with the support that I got from the rehabilitation officers I actually realised that I had been brought to a college for offenders.
“From the conversations that I had with the officers I discovered that discipline was very important if one is to live in a prison without crossing lines with the officers,”he said.
Moyo told the B-Metro news crew that due to good behaviour the prison authorities promoted him to be a “B” class and this promotion saw him being given an opportunity to start partaking in different rehabilitation activities as he looked for the area that could sustain him and his family upon completing his nine-year jail term.
“When I spoke to the officers that I met at Khami Remand Prison I discovered that prisons had an opportunity to change my life for the better if I followed the advice I was getting. One of the officers urged me to venture into farming as it was one of the sectors that was paying handsomely.
“I put that advice into use when I was promoted to be a “B” as this meant that I could now start taking part in different programmes that are related to the rehabilitation of an inmate,”he said.
The inmate said soon after being promoted he was transferred to Khami Medium Prison and that’s where he was enrolled to be part of the team responsible for maintaining the herd of cattle that is at Khami Complex.
“My enrolment to be part of this team saw me learning a lot in terms of taking care of these animals and because of the interest that I exhibited the officers responsible saw most of them really enjoying working with me. So far, we have a herd of more than 300 cattle and from these animals we specialise in growing two breeds, and these are Nkone and Tuli.
“We specialise on these two breeds because they are resistant to diseases and they also produce the best quality of meat and milk,”he said.
Moyo said the interest that he exhibited in this project saw him being promoted to “A” class and this saw him being given an opportunity to travel for more than two kilometres without any escort as he would be herding these animals.
“I never thought I was going to be promoted to be an A class but officers in charge saw it worthy that I be given that opportunity so that I could be able to closely monitor these animals.
“This promotion came after the management developed trust and confidence in me and that is the reason they decided to bring me to ZITF so that I could explain to people on how we are breeding these animals,”he said.
The inmate said his involvement in this international event had also given him an opportunity to meet other farmers with totally different breeds from what they were producing. Some of the new breeds that he had seen from this exhibition include Boran breed, Brahman and Simmental breed.
“I would like to thank the management for affording me this opportunity as I have been able to exchange ideas with other farmers here present and this has really inspired me.
“Right now, I am left with only six months before I go home so I am going to use the little information and links that I got from ZITF to start my animal project as I work towards registering a mine of my own,” he said.
Assistant Principal Officer Charles Chitumbura, who is also the farm manager, said it was actually part of their learning process to be made part of this exhibition.
“These inmates came to showcase what they are learning while in prison because we want the nation to understand our new operations and this time the inmates are the ones telling the visitors how they breed these animals.
“The exposure to other breeds is also important as it gives the inmates a wide variety of choices on which breed to grow as a new farmer,” he said.