Doors slammed in their faces – the plight of ex-offenders seeking jobs

Discrimination against ex-offenders can often make them feel like they are still serving time. (Photo: ehow)

Discrimination against ex-offenders can often make them feel like they are still serving time. (Photo: ehow)

Mandla Zwane has 10 years’ experience as a police officer. He also has a degree in communication science, acquired while he was serving time for murdering his wife.

Zwane feels that he has paid for his wrongdoing, but society won’t let him move on. The former SAPS sergeant couldn’t find work when he was released in 2008. He gave up looking when a government department rejected his application because of his criminal record.

“The Department of Correctional Services says they rehabilitate prisoners, but they fail to hire them once they are released. How are other departments or the private sector going to trust us (ex-convicts) when the department does not believe in us?” he asked the Sowetan.

Logan Maistry, spokesperson for the DCS told the paper “Persons with previous criminal records may not be employed in the public service.”

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mduduzi Manana, said yesterday that the government is trying to encourage the private sector to hire ex-offenders. Manana was speaking during a visit to Barberton Youth Centre Prison in Mpumalanga.

As many countries around the world mark Workers’ Day on May 1st, what do you think should be done to help ex-offenders reintegrate into the working world?

Related resources

Read about how one American ex-offender lost the hairdressing job she hoped would change her life.

Watch this video about a former offender who has managed to find work.

Watch this video and find out why former prisoners can be very good employees.

Find out what are some of the most common jobs for former offenders.

Read some jobhunting tips for ex-offenders.

Visit this blog, which helps people go from Jail to Jobs.


About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

4 Responses to Doors slammed in their faces – the plight of ex-offenders seeking jobs

  1. Sipho Mbatha says:

    I am Mpiyomndeni Mbatha an ex-offender who has just recently released on 2012, while incaceration I conducted a research to find out why ex-offenders failed to escape recidivism. On my release I initiated an organisation aimed at the fight against crime and poverty.

    The organisation Vuka Shaka Initiative is composed of 15 volunteers and we are doing agriculture. We are ploughing vegetables, supply it to the community, donate to the old age, disabled, orphans and sell it. VSI is fighting porvety but the government Dept such as Agriculture Mahlabatini is failing us. The government is promising and not delivering. We have been to this agr office from 2012 but till today they have never done a single thing for us.

    Even when we are struggling with our own effort to escape recidivism and not getting help, but we are not assisted. How much more to those who are expecting miracles to happened, one can see that our government is not willing to fight crime but pretending to. Unemployment is the crisis to every citizen of this country, worse with the criminal label.

    Anyone can please help me with visible programs to every ex-offender to develop themselves in KZN .

    Thank you
    Mpiyomndeni Mbatha

  2. Tasneem Khan says:

    Dear Sipho.
    I am very proud of your efforts. You are truly a remarkable man! At the end of it all, it comes down to you…your choices, your efforts and your perseverance. Forget about getting help from anyone else because there are no guarantees that you would. Just pick up the pieces and move on. Have faith in God and He will see you through! “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it!!!” God bless!
    Warm regards,

  3. Sibulele says:

    Am sorry to be out of line but would like to ask if whether there are any busaries provided for ex offenders who would like to study at one of South African institutions?
    Thank you

  4. im a very concerned ex inmates about how we as ex inmates are being shutted out opportunities by our own gvt,we went to to prisons om various crimes but now when we are released we are left hanging with nothing and without anything to survive or put on the table in the sake of us and our families,as we went to prison but now when we are released we are suffering ,ive established a spaza shop and i would like if the dept of correctional services can assist me with funds
    to upgrade my business.

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