Interview with Richard Ngoma, a former prisoner and now a lawyer in training

Richard Ngoma was sentenced to 18 years in prison at the age of 17.

He went in to prison a disappointed and bitter young boy, but through the self development programmes offered in prison he was able to overcome his anger and deal with his emotions and cope with his issues.

In 2004 he matriculated in prison and was released from pirson on November 11, 2009, after spending 9 years in prison (where)

He is now studying a Bcomm majoring in Law through Unisa with the help of a bursary from Khulisa.

“Over the past years I have been extensively involved with Khulisa in the delivery of Peer Drug education programmes in different Correctional centers. I have also delivered HIV/AIDS awareness programmes and estimate that over the years I have reached in excess of 2 000 inmates. I have also been involved with C.A.S.A.P which addresses substance abuse and criminal behaviour. This programme is run in conjunction with the SAPS and invites school children into the Correctional Centers and through this I have reached approximately 5 000 children.”

IN 2005 he made an effort to apologize to the family of his vicim, but this has not deterred him from actively participating in restorative justice programmes in the JHB Medium C prison.

Richard Ngoma is a former prisoner who now works at Khulisa, South Africa. He is involved in 5 diversion programmes in Mapumalanga with Khulisa. He completed his Matric in prison, and is now completing a Bcomm in Law through Unisa. He describes the best day of his life as being the day he left prison. (Photo Jay Caboz)

Here is a list of some of the questions I asked Ngoma:

Richard can you tell me about the efforts you made to reconcile with the families victom? why did it go unsuccessfully? can you take me through the difficulties of that day?

Ngoma was not able to fully reconcile with his victims. Fortunately this motivated him to work even harder with the people he meets now. To make sure they don not have to face the problems he faced.

Did you experience any other problems with other people when you came out? or was it easier with other people? what was it like seeing your grandmother again? how did that go? can you tell me about that story?

Ngoma met the same magistrate who had sentenced him to to 18 years a few months ago, this he said was another hard experience which brought back memories of his first day in prison. The story he told was heartbreaking.

How did your first day of release go? can you tell me about that story?

Ngoma left prison with a smile on his face and a new set of clothes. He was wearing a purple shirt, with new jeans and PUMA sneakers. When he got outside, his prison warden, and all the social workers he had been working cried and gave him a large bag of goodies for his journey home. His family celebrated well into the night.It was by far the happiest day he has ever had.

Additional Links

IN DEPTH DIARY – Begining to reconnect the prisoner to their family with NICRO

IN DEPTH DIARY – Defining core issues that relate to Social Justice?

IN DEPTH DIARY – What is the Social Justice?

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