Historically, the corrections environment was male dominated, and women were seldom appointed in leadership positions such as Head of Correctional Centre. However, government has made significant strides in redressing historical injustices and marginalization of women in all spheres of life, including the workplace. More and more women are taking their positions in the corporate environment and are proving to be equally as adept at executing roles that were previously reserved for men.
Like the rest of society, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is steadily turning the tide and making progress in changing this norm, and it is evident with the recent rise in appointments of a number of courageous and capable women to key positions such as Head of Correctional Centre.
Advocate Patricia Masinga, who is the Head Correctional Centre of Atteridgeville in Gauteng Region, is one such example. Born and raised in the township of Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, Masinga had a difficult upbringing, with the family struggling to get by. But that did not deter the self-driven and intelligent Masinga from reaching greater heights both academically and in her career.
Her early educational journey started at Motheo Primary School and continued at Tsako Thabo High School where she matriculated in 1998 at the age of 16. Due to her outstanding results, she earned a scholarship to further her studies at the University of Pretoria where she completed her Bachelor in Education with 12 distinctions.
Her career in DCS took off in 2002 after she was employed as Correctional Official at Modderbee Management Area. She was transferred to Baviaanspoort in 2005 where she spent 10 years working at the Maximum Centre in various other capacities including being a Centre Compliance Officer and Case Management Administration. It was during this period that she also registered for her honours degree which she completed in 2006. This was followed by her enrolment for the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) with UNISA in 2010, which she completed on record time in 2014, amassing 27 distinctions in the process.
In 2013, she was appointed at Leeuwkop Management Area as Manager Corrections, and did her Practical Legal Training in 2015 with The Law School. She was later transferred to Gauteng Regional Office. During 2016, she was officially admitted as an Advocate of the High Court in the Republic of South Africa and is currently studying towards her Masters of Law Degree through the DCS bursary scheme.
Adv. Masinga’s star continued to rise as she was promoted to the position of Head of Correctional Centre of Middledrift in the Eastern Cape Region in 2019, and later transferred to Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in 2020, where she is currently serving as the Head of Correctional Centre and manages the male release facility of 486 inmates.
Life wasn’t all rosy and pleasant for this inspirational mother of three. She shared her experiences of the very traumatic life episodes including a challenging upbringing, surviving a horrific car accident in 2012 that nearly took her life, losing her twins in 2019 (one on her husband’s birthday and the other on Valentines day). “I am forever grateful that God spared my life up until today, and I believed it is for a reason,” she said. She said that instead of giving up, she forged ahead in life and stood firm, and now she uses all her life bad experiences as motivation to push herself to reach greater heights, and to motivate and inspire people, especially women who are on the verge of giving up. “Pain can fuel you or destroy you, if not channelled properly,” said Adv. Masinga.
“As a firm believer of making education fashionable, I strongly believe the only way women can free themselves of any oppression and discrimination is by empowering themselves through education. Women should stop being each other’s enemy, we have more struggles to overcome together,” said Masinga.
Adv. Masinga is very passionate about championing women empowerment and making a positive change in society. She is involved in a number of philanthropic work in the community, including:
- Adopting two schools for children living with disabilities
- Adopting few needy/underprivileged families and orphans around Mamelodi
- Being a youth mentor at Charity and Faith Mission Church in Mamelodi
- Being a Motivational Speaker
Advocate Masinga says that her life is centred on the principles of humanity, humility, respect, support, love, and knowledge. She says she wants to be the voice of the voiceless, and a shining example that despite life challenges, women can succeed, as long as they can start by forgiving their past, as it can derail and destruct them from growth.
With August being a month where women are celebrated and recognized in the country, the department has also placed special focus on raising awareness on the plight and challenges faced by women in the workplace. Adv. Masinga wants to champion Young Women Mentorship Programme in DCS as she believes it is an important missing piece of the puzzle.