Offenders create masks for fellow inmates

    Offender Teboho Thelejane with Officials Lydia Steyn and Ephraim Khodumo. Photo: Supplied

    LEEUWKOP – The team of offenders have already handed over 1 200 masks to unit managers at the maximum correctional centre.

    A team of offenders at Leeuwkop Correctional Services has embarked on a project to create masks for more than 4 000 offenders at the prison.

    Senior administration officer for communication at the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Mona Coetzee, said the team of inmates have already completed half the total number of masks and handed 1 200 masks over to unit managers at the Maximum Correctional Centre.

    Coetzee added that the remaining masks would be distributed to the other three centres within the management area upon completion.

    Area commissioner Mokhemi Molefe said, “Our aim is to make at least two masks for each offender to enable them to interchange them in-between days. We thank the offenders for availing themselves to be part of the solution. This shows that they are being groomed into becoming responsible citizens and we also thank various stakeholders for always lending a hand. Such donations assist in expanding our internal resources.”

    Molefe handed over certificates of appreciation to 12 of the tailors who were nominated to participate in the project.

    Offender Patrick Mgozi receives a certificate of appreciation from Acting Area Commissioner Mokhemi Molefe. Photo: Supplied

    Lead tailor and offender Meshack Maseko said, “We saw on the news the challenge of shortage of protective gear, so when the area commissioner came up with this initiative we availed ourselves willingly and with excitement knowing we can make a difference within our environment.”

    Joan Sainsbury, who teaches arts, crafts and sewing skills to offenders at Leeuwkop Medium, donated 500 m of material and 2000 m of elastic band to make the masks. Sainsbury is part of charity organisation Rotary New Dawn and has been teaching offenders for the past three years.

    The Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit management team led by sales and events manager Alexandra Mayne donated material worth almost R10 000 towards the project. They were joined by CEO of Mesani Mining, George Nel and Yolandie Basson who donated elastic band material for the project.

    Iaan van der Merwe of Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit stands alongside development and care manager Nomsa Chitenje and other members of the Grand Prix Circuit team Andries Matthyser and Alexandra Mayne. Photo: Supplied

    Mayne said, “We are neighbours and good friends with the prison. We need to work closely together as a community. We believe in helping each other in these trying times.”

    Offender and tailor at Medium A Correctional Centre, Teboho Thelejane indicated that he learned to make clothing while incarcerated at East London Correctional Centre more than 10 years ago.

    “I am happy to give back to DSC through what they have invested in me. With this skill, I am able to create, teach others and keep myself busy whilst serving my sentence,” said Thelejane. He has completed 15 years of a life sentence.

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