He uses his prison hustle to create careers
“In prison we have the best hustlers. We have the risk takers, the best networkers.” At first it’s easy to mistake Sihle Tshabalala for some sort of prison evangelist, espousing the merits of doing time. But his mission is the opposite. Tshabalala is focused on rehabilitation, on using the skills that he knows prisoners have but that society all too often ignores.
As a former member of the infamous 26 gang, Tshabalala knows what it means to be a criminal. He spent 11 years in Pollsmoor Prison for cash-in-transit robberies. After getting out and adjusting to life away from his prison gang network, Tshabalala realised that something had to change. And so he taught himself how to code, learning the skills to become a software developer. He went on to start Brothers for All, an initiative that aims to improve the lives of former prisoners who cannot find employment after release. The program provides educational facilities teaching coding, CV writing, presentation and business skills.
In a country where more than two thirds of all people who are arrested for committing a crime end up becoming repeat offenders, Tshabalala intends to revolutionise prison rehabilitation. He believes that inmates have the skills necessary for entrepreneurship – and he’s finding a way to put them to good use.