Commissioner Thobakgale opens the Pietermaritzburg Arts and Craft Gallery

Screen Shot 2023-03-23 at 12.28.08It is said that ‘art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it’.

Screen Shot 2023-03-23 at 12.28.45 This ancient adage is ever so fitting and profound in the context of offenders using art behind bars, not as an expression of their dark and painful past, but as a platform to reimagine and redefine a new life beyond the shackles of their temporary confinement.

The National Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), accompanied by Chief Deputy Commissioner (CDC): Incarceration and Corrections, Anna Molepo touched down in Pietermaritzburg under KwaZulu-Natal Region, on 15 March 2023, to open the Arts and Crafts Gallery. On his tour of the Gallery, Commissioner Thobakgale got to see and appreciate the special talents of offenders through the display of their impressive artworks.

As staunch proponent of giving the rejected a second chance, DCS is spearheading efforts to help offenders to discover and nurture their talents so they can use it for self-sustenance when they are released from incarceration. It is against this background that National Commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale has encouraged the establishment of Arts and Crafts Galleries across all six regions of the Department.

CDC Molepo said that work is at an advanced stage to monetise and maximise revenue on the many stunning artworks in DCS Arts and Crafts galleries. She said that the launching of Arts and Crafts galleries is also in furtherance of the objectives of the Self-Sufficiency and Sustainability Strategic Framework (SSSF) – a programme that has been identified as a catalyst to reduce the costs incurred by the fiscus, and to generate revenue for the Department by using offender labour to develop and utilise state assets to realise self-sufficiency.

A number of stakeholders graced the occasion and pledged to work and support this noble initiative. The Deputy Mayor of Umsunduzi Municipality, Mxolisi Mkhize said the Capital City of the KwaZulu-Natal province is honoured to be part of efforts to enhance meaningful social reintegration through the skilling of offenders.

Commissioner Thobakgale indicated that this is the 6th gallery to be opened by the Department, adding that the primary aim is to leave offenders and parolees with an opportunity to showcase their skills. He said that this will give an opportunity to offenders and parolees to compete in the market and sell their arts and crafts in order to earn a living. He added that in the process, they will also demonstrate to the world that there is a lot of good in them. “We have already secured a space in the National Arts Festival where we will put on display before the whole world, the arts and crafts made by offenders and parolees,” he said.

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