Ex-con­victs equipped with en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills to start new lives

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - SANDISIWE NTLEMEZA

FOUR ex- con­victs have been awarded the tools to turn their dark pasts into bright fu­tures, af­ter grad­u­at­ing with cer­tifi­cates in en­trepreneur­ship.

The group re­ceived their cer­tifi­cates at a grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony held in Salt River yes­ter­day, or­gan­ised by the Young in Prison South Africa or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The non- profit or­gan­i­sa­tion works with for­merly in­car­cer­ated youth, to equip them with the skills to pos­i­tively rein­te­grate them­selves into so­ci­ety.

Young in Prison SA op­er­a­tions man­ager, Jen­nifer Hage, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion had var­i­ous pro­grammes like the Siyakhana Pro­gramme, which the four par­tic­i­pated in.

“Our aim is to give tools to the young peo­ple of South Africa who come out of prison to keep them grow­ing. We want to equip and en­able them to start their own busi­nesses as it is hard for ex-con­victs to find jobs be­cause of crim­i­nal records. The only chal­lenge we are fac­ing as the or­gan­i­sa­tion is funds. How­ever, we call on the pub­lic to help out,” said Hage.

Siyanda Dy­wili, 29, from Khayelit­sha, is one of the grad­u­ates. He pre­vi­ously served four years in prison for mur­der, and said be­ing part of this ini­tia­tive had been a priv­i­lege.

“I am happy and joy­ful that to­day I am hold­ing my en­trepreneur­ship cer­tifi­cate. In two years’ time, I see my­self own­ing a gallery in my com­mu­nity, and my aim is to fight poverty and to keep young peo­ple of my com­mu­nity off the streets,” Dy­wili said.

Andile Cele ,23, of Kraai­fontain, is another grad­u­ate. Cele grew up on the streets of Cape Town, and said he was grate­ful and proud about earn­ing his cer­tifi­cate.

“I grew up with no par­ents, I don’t even know what par­ent love is and that is what led to my ar­rest at the age of 16 be­cause I was on the streets. That is where I got ex­posed to drugs, but I am happy and proud to say that I am of­fi­cially a grad­u­ate.”

He said that as an ex-con­vict, it was dif­fi­cult to se­cure em­ploy­ment.

“I’ve learnt so much while at­tend­ing the pro­gramme. Now I see my­self run­ning and own­ing a mo­bile cof­fee cafe,” he said.

Strand res­i­dent Aza­nia Nkqezo, 23, said the pro­gramme had equipped him with the knowl­edge to es­tab­lish an or­gan­i­sa­tion that aimed to unite West­ern and African styles, to pro­mote one­ness through fash­ion.

Siphamandla Lumk­ile, 25, also from Strand, said he hoped to run a cy­cling pro­gramme once he had enough funds to do so.

“The aim of hav­ing a cy­cling pro­gramme in my com­mu­nity is to pro­mote health­i­ness be­cause cy­cling is good for our bod­ies and health,” said Lumk­ile.

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