Fifteen ex-offenders from the Chris Hani District who are out on parole are set for work placement at train stations in the region from April 1.
They will be part of 80 parolees who will benefit from the programme in the province.
The six month programme, formed by the department of transport, Prasa and correctional services aims to uplift ex-offenders who experience difficulty in accessing the job market due to criminal records. The programme, which seeks to address stigmatisation, prevent a reversal to crime, and give a chance to ex-offenders to earn a decent living, will target areas with railway stations.
Eastern Cape Prasa facilities and technical division head of department, Gcobisa Ndandani, announced the news during the induction of the parolees at the Queenstown station on Tuesday.
The ex-offenders who attended were from Komani, Cradock, Burgersdorp, Middelburg and Somerset East.
The national Prasa pilot programme was in partnership with the department of transport and the department of correctional services (DCS).
Ndandani said the parolees would be paid a stipend of R2, 500 for rendering cleaning services and the managers were negotiating with the office of the treasury.
“Their work will include grass cutting, cleaning the operating environment, the trains and looking after the ablution facilities. “Most toilets are either closed or dysfunctional. Prasa is losing many customers due to their unhygienic state. ”We want to bring back the dignity of commuters.”
The programme was supposed to begin in March, but due to hitches was moved to April.
He said medical surveillance would be conducted before the parolees started work in the towns where they were from.
Though some employees have expressed concern about working with ex-convicts, Ndandani said correctional services officials would continue to monitor them during working hours.
Parolee Sisanda Bukula from Molteno said: “I feel happy to get this job. I will be able to cover most of my expenses and meet my needs.”
Bukula said it was difficult to get work as an ex-convict.
“Sometimes I apply for work, but I am told my criminal record is not cleared. I need to wait for that period to be over.”
DCS Sada management area coordinator, Ndzimeni Cekiso said Prasa was giving the parolees a chance.
Cekiso urged parolees not to return to their former criminal activities, but to focus on the skills they acquired while serving in prison.
“This is a lifetime opportunity, Cekisi said.
”You know there is a stigma because no one wants to employ you, they lose interest when they find out you have been in prison. ”People do not know that correctional services is a place where people are rehabilitated to change.
”DCS approached Prasa because we have people with degrees and skills who are sitting idle and we are grateful for their response.”