At 17, Chris Phumlani Mazibuko stole a car with his friends and ended up in prison. In 2008 he was given a 10-year sentence for armed robbery.
Four years later, Mazibuko has emerged as the best performing inmate in the 2012 matric exams after receiving distinctions for isiZulu, English, life orientation, business studies and economics.
Mazibuko, now 23, has been accepted to study for a degree in Business Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, which he will pursue through correspondence.
According to the spokesperson for Correctional Services in KwaZulu-Natal, Nokuthula
Zikhali, Mazibuko’s achievement was a present to his mother. “This was to apologise to his mother for embarrassing her by landing up in prison,” she explained.
Mazibuko completed his Grade 12 at UseThubeni Youth School at Durban Westville Youth Centre situated at Westville Correctional Services in KwaZulu-Natal.
He was in Grade 10 at Queensburgh High School in Durban when he was arrested.
“When speaking to Mazibuko it is clear that he loved school and was just lead astray by peer pressure. We do believe that he will accomplish his dream of getting a degree. He was very committed to his studies. Mazibuko is also a very creative person. He sews his own clothes and also for others in prison,” said Zikhali.
Mazibuko is proof that you can turn your life around even while in prison, Zikhali pointed out.
Inmates who wrote the 2012 matric exams achieved a 79.25 per cent pass rate, more than the 73.9 per cent national pass rate.
The inmates’ pass rate was a significant improvement on the 68.06 per cent they recorded in 2011.
Of the 53 offenders who wrote all subjects for the 2012 National Senior Certificate exams, 22 achieved results that qualified them to study towards bachelor qualifications, 15 qualified to study for a diploma and five qualified to study towards a higher certificate.
The best performing Correctional Centre School was Johannesburg Correctional Centre School, which achieved a 94 per cent pass rate, followed by UseThubeni Youth School with 81 per cent and Emthonjeni Combined School in Gauteng with 66 per cent.
“We want to congratulate our inmates on achieving a 79.25 per cent pass rate in the 2012 National Senior Certificate examinations, and wish them every success in their efforts to empower, and improve their lives. We also want to convey our appreciation to all role players, including the educators, tutors and correctional officials,” said Minister of Correctional Services Sibusiso Ndebele.
Currently 1 490 offenders are studying towards post-matric qualifications, 4 042 towards Further Education and Training college programmes that include electrical engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and marketing.
There are also 3 853 inmates studying towards skills development programmes in basic business skills training and entrepreneurship.
From April 2013, it will be compulsory for every inmate who does not have a qualification equivalent to Grade 9 to complete Adult Education and Training level 1 to 4.
“We are working towards turning our prisons into learning centres. Key to rehabilitation is empowering offenders to have skills to function effectively in society on their release but, equally important, is to ensure that offenders are actively involved in productive activity while they serve their sentences,” said Minster Ndebele.