An inmate serving a 36 months jail term at Bulawayo Prison better known as Grey prison has penned a television programme called Magic Chef.
The programme is going to be produced by Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) in partnership with ZTV.
In an interview, concept producer, Michael Ncube told B-Metro that he came up with the concept sometime last year when he was chosen by the prison authorities to be one of the chefs at the station as part of his rehabilitation process.
“I was convicted and brought to prison early last year after I had sold one of my best friend’s property that he had left at my place as he was going to Dubai in search of better opportunities. Instead of being a good friend I took the property which had a total value of US$6 700 and I sold it as I wanted to buy drugs.
“Some of the property that I sold included two plasma TVs, two decoders and two toaster machines. The money that I got from this property I used it to buy drugs that include dagga and all forms of alcohol,” he said.
The inmate said soon after squandering the money, he decided to relocate to Kwekwe as the owner of the property had notified him that he was contemplating on coming back as life had proved to be even more difficult in Dubai.
“When I got the information that the owner of the property was coming back to Zimbabwe, I thought it was rather better for me to relocate to Kwekwe as a way of running away from the crime that I had committed,” he said.
When the owner landed from Dubai, he reported the theft at Magwegwe Police Station.
“Police officers from Magwegwe Police Station hunted me for more than three months without luck. They later got a tip-off from one of my friends that I had spent the money with and managed to ambush me when I had come home in Magwegwe.
“I was taken to the police station for detention as they wanted to take me to court for the issue to be finalised,”he said.
The inmate said when he got to court, he admitted that he had committed the offence due to his addiction to drugs.
“When the judgment was passed the owner of the property was actually disappointed as his intention was to see me being sent to prison for a much longer time.
“Since the day I was brought here to serve my sentence, life has not been easy but I am slowly realising that God brought me to this place for a purpose and that is for me to discover my talent,” he said.
Ncube said from his seven months stay in prison, the correctional officers discovered that he had a serious passion for cooking so they recommended that he be attached as a chef in one of the station’s kitchens.
“The passion for cooking that was discovered by the correctional officers has seen me penning a television programme called the Magic Chef. This is more of a cooking competition between prisons in Bulawayo.
“The idea is to encourage those inmates who are into cooking to take the profession seriously so that they are able to start their own companies as a way of fighting re-offending in the communities,” he said.
Ncube said the programme came to his mind after he met a chef who was in prison for a crime he committed when he was working at a local hotel.
“This friend of mine showed me a good part of this industry so as a way of helping other guys to appreciate this industry I thought it was rather ideal for me to come up with a concept of this nature.
“We will start by having cooking competitions as inmates from different stations and from those competitions I know that they are going to benefit a lot in terms of cooking skills, hoping that on the day they complete their jail terms they will have something to do,” he said.
The inmate said his concept was tabled before the prison authorities and they intend to engage ZTV.
“I would like to thank the management of Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service for giving me such an opportunity to work on my television production even though I am still serving for the offence that I committed.
“These are opportunities that we require as inmates so that we can grow in the field of our choice,” he said.
The inmate said the programme needs the support of the business community and pleaded for their assistance.
“This programme is going to be used as a tool of promoting the reintegration aspect of an inmate back into society upon completing their jail terms. This is going to be achieved as inmates are going to be given an opportunity to interact and compete with people from the free world.
“So, my plea for now is support from the business community to support this noble idea as we drive towards promoting inmates who are into cooking as a profession,” he said.