By Givemore Muzariri
EX-CONVICTS from Khami complex have teamed up and formed a non-governmental organisation to empower and create job opportunities for ex-convicts. The idea came up after the ex-convicts encountered serious discrimination when they sought employment upon release from prison.
In an interview, organisation spokesperson, Lovemore Siphepha Nkomo said the formation of Invictus Trust was mainly triggered by a hostile community, which is failing to give ex-convicts the required support for them to contribute meaningfully towards the development of the nation.
“When some of us were released from prison we were expecting to be employed in both private and public sector, but the major challenge that we encountered was that most companies refused to employ us due to our criminal records that saw us going to prison for a long time.
“The attitude that we got was not so encouraging and this forced us to come up with our own initiatives in dealing with this situation without necessarily committing a crime against anyone. We then decided to team up as ex-convicts and we decided to register a trust that would help both inmates and ex-convicts,”he said.
Nkomo said in registering this trust they pooled the little resources they had as a team. Soon after legalising their operations the team of ex-convicts approached the resident minister of Bulawayo Metropolitan province, Judith Ncube who really liked the idea such that she opted to be the patron of the organisation.
“Soon after registering this organisation we took our papers to the governor’s office and in our discussion with the minister she was really impressed by this concept as we openly told her that we came up with this as one of the solutions we require in dealing with challenges that we encounter as ex-convicts.
“We told her that experience was the best teacher and this idea was coming from what we encountered while in prison and even out of prison as a lot of people think it’s very easy to be re-integrated back into society without any form of support from the community,”he said.
Nkomo said the resident minister was working tirelessly looking for stakeholders that could partner with their organisation for this noble idea to be a success as they also intend to spread their wings to other provinces for all ex-convicts to benefit from this programme.
“I am happy to tell you that umama umaNcube who happens to be our patron is working very hard in connecting us to different organisations and even farmers locally so they can partner us as we work towards growth as we aim at spreading to other provinces.
“From her initiative we partnered with an organisation called Upfumi kumadzimai/Inotho kubomama on a piggery project that was kick started after we benefited from the president’s piggery project scheme which saw a lot of farmers getting piglets to start their own projects,”he said.
Nkomo said as a trust they chose piggery for a start as it had the potential of rapid growth as their aim was to redistribute the off springs to ex-convicts for them to start their own projects so that they would be able to sustain themselves and their families.
“We got seven piglets from the president’s programme and we partnered with Upfumi in feeding these animals with the aim of redistributing the offsprings to ex-convicts so that they can start their own projects since the community is not yet ready to employ them.
On our timeline we gave ourselves two years to breed these animals and on the third year we would be distributing the piglets.
“The reason we thought of this project is because while in prison we were exposed to agricultural activities so it is now the time to apply the skills we gained while in prison,”he said.
Nkomo said from Bulawayo Metropolitan Province their project would be moving to other provinces as their main aim is to reduce the alarming re-offending statistics throughout the country. The statistics of re-offending if they are not reduced usually affect the development of the nation in different sections of our economy.
“Bulawayo Metropolitan Province is going to be the first province to benefit from this programme and then we can now start identifying other ex-convicts in other parts of the nation as our aim is to make sure that every ex-convict is catered for in this programme.
“We want ex-convicts to be blocked from re-offending as rehabilitation programmes are on offer empower them. In actual sense the relationship between an inmate and prison ends on the day the jail term expires. On the day that relationship expires the inmate is exposed to a lot of challenges that might force that person to come back to prison.
So as a trust we are coming in to bridge that gap by providing resources for them to start their own projects instead of leaving them with nothing but thinking of re-offending,”he said.
Nkomo said they were still inviting more organisations to come on board and partner with Invictus Trust in an effort to empower ex-convicts as they require another chance to prove that they were a completely changed group of people in the community considering the rehabilitation activities they participated in while in prison.
These partnerships would not only benefit ex-convicts, but they are also intended to assist serving inmates with different resources they require on daily basis.
“We are calling for more partners to come on board and work with us as we fight for this noble cause and our aim is to specialise in farming so that our nation can benefit from the knowledge we got whilst in prison under the rehabilitation programmes.
“Agrobased companies, non-governmental organisations and even the Government itself is more than welcome as we work towards the development of our nation by reducing the levels of recidivism in our communities. As we speak we don’t even have any organisation that is funding our programmes and this is making our operations very difficult.
We are calling those NGOs that worked with us while in prison to come and extend their hand towards the success of this noble idea,” he said.
Those interested in getting in touch with the organisation can email them on [email protected] or call Lovemore Siphepha Nkomo on 0779 976 384.
Khami Maximum Prison, Rehabilitation officer, Leonard Matsvange said registering such an organisation was a good initiative and it shows that rehabilitation was now bearing positive results that require support of the community at large.
“I never thought these guys would come up with such a good initiative, I am actually impressed by this move and this is the time we need support from NGOs and even the Government itself for this noble idea to be a success.
“I hope this is the solution to ever rising figures of recidivism that we have been complaining about as a nation,”he said