Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla officially opened the St Albans Bakery near Port Elizabeth on Friday, 31 August 2018. The one-time shoe factory, turned into a state-of-the-art bakery became the ninth bakery in DCS.
Makwetla said its opening is a cause for celebration because it is yet another opportunity for offenders to create value in society. Addressing the community of Nelson Mandela Bay, he said offenders in St Albans and other correctional facilities around the country are becoming a self-reliant community that labour to provide for their own life’s needs without having to spend government money to purchase products to sustain themselves.
Acting Regional Commissioner Noziphiwo Dumbela pleaded with communities and the private sector to be receptive to offenders when they are released after having acquired skills, so that they also get opportunities for employment. “The acquisition of skills and qualifications forms an integral part of preparing offenders for a productive life and successful reintegration back into society,” she said.
On average, 16 offenders work in the bakery daily. The bakery is currently producing about 1470 loaves a day. It has been operational since 18 May 2018. According to Director Production Workshop and Agriculture Cythia Lepule, the department is saving more than R1,9 million per annum by baking its own bread. The average cost of baking a loaf of bread is R5, 65 compared to the R7, 00 of purchased bread. The bread is supplied to four correctional centres in the management area and the supply is expected to increase over time.
Ms Nonqaba Jinikwa, the head baker at St Albans said she started with nine offenders and had to train more to increase production. She was trained at Brandvlei, together with two other officials. She also obtained a baking certificate at the University of Johannesburg with the assistance of the department.
Sivuyile Benjamin who is already 10 years into his life sentence said he has developed communication and leadership skills which resulted in his recognition and subsequent selection as head baker. “I did not go to school for this, I only received informal on-the-job training when the bakery started but because of my dedication I am now the head baker,” he said. According to Mitchell Bron from the Directorate Production Workshop and Agriculture, the directorate works closely with the Directorate Skills Development to obtain accreditation with SETA for the bakeries.
The reconstruction of the bakery began in 2017 with a projected budget of R2,8 million, which included procurement of equipment. Mr Makwetla recognised good leadership in DCS and applauded the application of cost containment measures by prioritising projects that will lead to self-sufficiency.