Convict Artists : Creative inmates could be paid for artworks

By Francis Hweshe

Cape Town - The Department of Correctional Services is mulling the establishment of a trading entity that would see creative inmates being remunerated for their artworks.

Currently, goods produced by offenders are not being sold but this would soon change, with the money derived from such trading being ploughed back into the department. Part of the money would be given to inmates upon their release back into society.

This was announced by Minister for Correctional Services, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, during a Budget Vote briefing earlier today.

She said the department was set to have an art exhibition on works done by the inmates, indicating that plans were also afoot to open an art gallery. They were also in talks with National Treasury about the establishment of their trading arm and the management of its revenue.

The proceeds "can be retained and utilised for cost recovery, buying of raw materials and payment of the required stipend to offenders," said Mapisa-Nqakula.

National Commissioner for Corrections, Tom Moyane, said there were many creative offenders in correctional centres whose works were "lying idle".

The department was passionate about offender labour and how it could be used to help reintegrate offenders into society after they had served their time, said Moyane, adding that the trading entity would help them in becoming self-sufficient and not depend on "handouts from the government".

Moyane said the initiative would allow inmates to take some money with them once they leave rehabilitation centres.

On a separate matter, Mapisa-Nqukula said she remained concerned about the level of health care provided to offenders.

The intention was to provide "effective needs-based care to all offenders," she said, highlighting that a joint task team with the SA Medical Association had been established, and that it had assessed the challenges faced by the department in the provision of health care.

"The team has made various proposals covering the structure and organisation of our health care services, pharmaceutical services, HIV and Aids as well as professional staffing. We have since upgraded our Health Care Services to a Directorate and provided for additional dedicated directorates for pharmaceutical, HIV and Aids and psychology," said the minister. - BuaNews