Printing SA equips inmates with the skills to survive

Seen with prison officials and Printing SA representatives are the inmates who participated in an accredited screen-printing training course aimed at giving them a career when they get out of prison. According to Printing SA CEO Steve Thobela, the training gave inmates the basic skills to go out in society and make an honest living.

The 20 inmates have recently participated in an accredited screen printing training course aimed at helping reducing the recidivism rate and improve public safety, by better preparing inmates for life beyond their prison sentence.

Provided by Printing SA, the course has equipped inmates with the skills that will enable them to start their own printing businesses and get back on their feet when they get out.

The organisation is hoping that the training programme will provide more help for inmates as they will return to society with the job and coping skills to avoid a return trip to prison.

The inmates graduated on April 19, after completing the two-week-long screen-printing training provided by Printing SA in partnership with the correctional centre’s management.

The inmates who participated received certificates during the graduation ceremony.

The inmates were selected based on their enthusiasm after participating in a number of various educational campaigns in prison, having completed courses in carpentry, welding and other various courses with Unisa.

The organisation decided to do something after discovering that ex-offenders are always at the back of the unemployment queue due to their criminal records and a lack of job training.

It has been reported that former offenders are finding it nearly impossible to find work once they are released.

Printing SA then saw this as an opportunity to contribute something meaningful.

“When we were approached by the Boksburg prison’s team, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to include our services, which intertwine with some of the skills they have already learned while incarcerated.

“Overall we need to look at ways of ensuring that when inmates leave, they leave with skills that assist them in contributing positively to society at large and not heading back to a life of crime,” said Printing SA CEO Steve Thobela.

Speaking during the graduation, Thobela congratulated the participants for finishing the course, adding that he is convinced that they will use the skills acquired to change their lives for the better.

“When you leave the prison, go and do something good. You have shown and demonstrated to many that you are willing to turn over a new leaf,” said Thobela.

Khulu Ntsingila from Printing SA, who facilitated the entrepreneur course, said training is key to keeping inmates from returning to prison.

He asked the inmates to use the skills to survive and never do crime.

One of the inmates who benefited from the training, Benjamin Mondlana, said he is ready to go use the skills he acquired to make the community trust and accept him as a responsible member of the community again.

“I’m very proud to tell you now that I will never go back to the life of crime. I will use my skills to contribute to the country’s economy and better the lives of others,” said Mondlana.

Another inmate, Moshoeshoe Mokoena, who was handed a 28-year prison sentence for robbery and murder and is set to be released in 2019, said he has already drawn up his business plan.

“I’m here because of money, so this course will help me make money through legal means, as I’m planning to start my own printing business back home in Katlehong,” said Mokoena.

Inmates Thabang Nhlapo, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for robbery in 2007, said he now feels ready for the outside world.

He is hopeful that when he leaves prison, all the skills he acquired in prison over the past years will keep him out for good.

The Soweto man established an NGO called Art is Life while in prison and intends to continue running it in his community when he is released.

Nhlapho also wants to take it upon himself to tell young people that prison is not a five-star hotel but is like being in hell.

“I will visit schools and speak to the youth about the consequences of committing crime through my experience.

“I feel it is my duty to assist government in decreasing crime in our country and I have decided that when I return to my community the first thing I will do will be to talk to the youth and discourage them from taking part in any criminal activity, because crime does not pay,” said Nhlapo.

Speakers constantly reminded inmates that what they did yesterday doesn’t matter – all that matters is what they will do for their future.

They were also encouraged to be resilient in the face of adversity.

During the training, participants were provided with start-up kits made up of A4 silkscreen, extender, pigments, squeegee mop as well as canvas, fabric, lino and printing ink, and essential stationery for design patterns.

The offenders now have an understanding of silk-screen equipment and tools. They have learned how to mix different colours, compile a storyboard with design ideas and to transfer these ideas onto fabric.

They have acquired the skills to print on cushions with a stencil-printing technique, print a fabric card with a lino-printing technique and mix their own paints to make various colours. They have also learned wax-printing techniques and how to print on T-shirts.

The second week of training constituted basic entrepreneurial skills, including customer services, professional behaviour, business operations, innovation and creativity, resource management and marketing management.

Printing SA also invites good corporate citizens to join forces with it to grow this programme, where candidates can be sponsored.

GALLERY: Printing SA’s initiative gives offenders a second chance

For more information contact 011 287 1160 or visit and

Fanie Mthupha

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