EX-CONVICTS and prisoners were treated as outcasts and re-integration into the society became a difficult task, forcing many of them to continue committing similar crimes.
Speaking during Zaoga Forward in Christ prison ministry awareness, Pastor Sarah Rusere said it was important for organisations to help ex-prisoners find their feet again.
“We are grateful for all who support us in our endeavors to help our brothers and sisters,” she said.
Held at Africa Unity Square in Harare, the occasion, which included a march from the Town House, was attended by officials from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services and ran under the theme Breaking Fortified Walls, Winning and Restoring Dignity.
The Zaoga prison ministry has partnered with the government to rehabilitate in-mates and ex-mates.
This was done through bridging the gap between the community, society and inmates. Zaoga also provides skills for income-generating and self-sustaining projects. This ensured that the lives of the prisoners were raised to decent standards.
“We also provide food, clothes, and busfare to ex-inmates to their homes after discharge,” Pastor Rusere said.
An ex-convict, Mike Nhira Matema, who is now a born again Christian, said being stigmatised was the hardest challenge after he was released.
“Relatives shun you and when I was still in prison, no one came to see me. That was painful, but in those difficult times I decided to turn over a new leaf,” he said in his testimony.
Matema said he was not ashamed of re-telling his story to strangers as this would help others like him.
“I was a hard core criminal and was involved in car hijacking, armed robbery, kidnapping but that is all in the past,” he said to wild cheers from the crowd.