By Mihlali Mpendu
Prisoners at the Grahamstown Correctional Centre launched their own art gallery on 14 March, after being given the canvas to show off their expressive thoughts through art.
The Grahamstown Correctional Centre Arts and Crafts Gallery “provides the inmates with the skills and tools so that they go back to society more refined, and with the skills to launch their fresh start once they leave prison”, ANC councillor and mayoral committee member Vuyani Jezi said in his opening remarks.
National prisons commissioner, Makgothi Samuel Thobakgale, acting regional prisons commissioner of the Eastern Cape, Lucky Mthethwa, and the Prisons’ department regional development and care manager, a Ms Sontshatsha, joined the occasion.
“We do not only find the talent of our offenders, but we nurture it to its fullest possible potential” Sontshatsha said. “We have got educators and facilitators who help us achieve our objective, which is to establish expertise in our department” she added.
The prisoner’s artwork will also be part of the National Arts Festival in June and July this year.
Thobakgale said prison inmates were able to thrive in the world once they have taken the decision to practice consistent goodwill and harness their creative attributes. He highlighted the example of former prisoner, Blessing Ngobeni who now lives overseas and makes a living as an artist.
A prisoners’ choir, the Choir of the Offenders, also performed at the occasion.