Testimonies from ex-offenders
I am Bernadette Adams (Phoenix – SA Got Talent 2016). Being an ex-offender is no easy feat. Although I have served my prison term, I found that I was still harshly judged by all and sundry after my release. Society has a habit of reminding an ex-offender constantly of the crimes committed. This is irrespective of having turned a leaf for the better.
I was consumed with guilt for failing myself and my family. My deeds and actions were contradictory to my upbringing and that gnawed at me; a pity it was a little too late. Besides having to deal with my own guilty feelings regarding my three beautiful children who were without a mother for two and a half years while I was incarcerated in an Italian prison for drug trafficking, society continued to judge and ostracize me after release.. It was also extremely difficult to obtain employment. Although I worked at other organizations after release, I just couldn’t find myself. My self confidence had hit rock bottom and I didn’t know how to dig myself out of the hole that was threatening to swallow me up.
Fortunately Prison Care and Support Network came to my rescue and offered me a job as an office administrator. I lacked confidence that often led to anger outbursts. PCSN staff was very patient with me and with time I realized that I needed to change my ways. It was a tough journey, however very rewarding. I can now hold my head high and pursue my dreams. Since I put my story out in the public domain when I entered SA Got Talent in 2016, many doors have opened for me. I have been on the straight and narrow now for eleven years and still going strong. I am eternally grateful to PCSN for taking an interest in me, not judging me, but rather inspiring me to give of my very best daily. My children are doing well and are well adjusted.
I am Mncedisi Kingstone Mdingi, an ex-offender who was given a prison sentenced of 41 years and 6 months in 1998. I was arrested in 1997 for an armed robbery and I was classified as a high risk scheduled inmate.
I served 19 years of my prison sentence at various Correctional Centres in the Western Cape. It was during my incarceration that I met with the Restorative Justice team of Prison Care and Support Network in Worcester in 2013. The team helped me to understand the wrongs of my deeds to myself, society and my family as well as all others that were affected by my crime. As I attended the restorative justice sessions and experienced all the genuine care and support the team gave me, I was filled with gratitude and amazement at this group of spiritual workers, who showed so much love, without judgment.
My journey was tough, however, with the team’s help and guidance I realized how wrong my actions were. It was a bitter, yet enlightening realization. I was finally on the road to turning my life around. It all started with forgiving myself and daily challenging myself to be a better person. The team continued to support me until my release.
Once released, I had no job or income. Prison Care and Support Network sent me to an institution called Learn to Earn and that’s where I was taught a skill of baking for profit.
Today I have a baking skill because of Prison Care and Support Network. My business is doing well and I am able to sustain my family and myself. With the support of the team, I also facilitate on the Restorative Justice programmes at different prisons across the Western Cape. I am however still on parole but I strongly believe in a positive attitude. With forgiveness and the constructive influence of Prison Care and Support Network I am able to face my daily challenges with a renewed spirit. I am extremely grateful to the organization for their love and support.