Ruben Chigumira shaking hands with Suprintendant Gohodzi with Chaplain Gumbura appearing in the background during the graduation ceremony
GWERU – The Prison Ministries International (PMI) Zimbabwe academy 17th graduation ceremony was held recently at Gweru Trinity Presbyterian Church with the idea of advancing the goal of rehabilitation of ex-prisoners and prevent recidivism.
Graduates were drawn from four provinces namely Masvingo, Midlands, Mashonaland West and Manicaland.
The occasion was graced by dignitaries including Councillor Farai Mudza who represented City of Gweru Mayor Charles Chikozho, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Midlands' Superintendent Godfrey Gohodzi, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Midlands Assistant Inspector Trymore Mushope, former presiding Bishop Rev Sithole and the executive assistant to PMI president, Edwin Gumbura, who is also the director of training for the academy.
PMI national coordinator Martin Mugandani said the organisation, which started in 2011 with its first class at Pan African Christian College in Harare, has 900 trained personnel and 180 ordained civilian chaplains from the four ordinations held so far.
He said PMI had a memorandum of understanding with ZRP, ZPCS and ZNA which mandated it to complement government's efforts to reduce crime and recidivism.
"Upon release, some prisoners face discrimination and that is when PMI intervenes to provide exit support and bridge the gap by conducting peace circles between offenders and family members affected by the crime," said Mugandani.
Speaking on behalf of ZPCS Commissioner General Rtd Maj Gen Paradzai Zimondi, Supt Gohodzi said PMI was doing a good rehabilitative job.
"We now have somewhere to refer inmates unlike in the past when there were no bridges to cross over to the family. I would like to thank Prison Ministries International for being a short in the arm," said Supt Gohodzi.
Six students gave testimony on how the training had made a difference on them, among them Ruben Chigumira who served a 22 years 10 months and 13 days sentence at Chikurubi.
He said he never allowed prison life to get into him because he had received Jesus Christ, adding that to him, the encounter with PMI was an answered prayer.
"I had fasted and prayed for five days asking God to get pastors to prison to continue with the work I had started of converting inmates," said Chigumira.
Gweru, Bulawayo and Kwekwe stations were awarded chapter status to exercise a certain level of autonomy.
Certified correctional care churches were AFM Amazing Grace Zvishavane, PAOZ Zvishavane, Holy Spirit Apostolic Church Zvishavane, Family Fellowship Mission Zvishavane, Church of Christ Marodera, Balm of Gilead Bulawayo, Higher Grace International Ministries Bulawayo, Trinity Presbyterian Church Gweru, AFM Chitungwiza East, Harvest House International Gweru, Nations For Christ Kadoma and Word Alive Restoration Ministries Redcliff, Anglican Church Kadoma, Life and Liberty Churches International, Victory Fellowship Bulawayo and Great Commission Marondera.local