Hundreds of prisoners go on the run in Rustenburg for offender championships
Hundreds of prisoners went on the run this week, and all the warders did was stand around and watch.
"It was hard but, I made it. It is an achievement for me," Gloria Moagi, 25, from Polokwane, gasped after she had bolted 1 500m without a shot having been fired, or a single bloodhound having nipped at her heels.
She completed the race without leg irons, in nine minutes and 33 seconds, having led from start to finish.
She was one of about 460 male and female prisoners from Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West who took part in the Regional Offender Athletics Championships at the Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg on Wednesday and Thursday. The warders had made sure that all the gates to the venue were securely locked.
"I wanted to go to the national championship next week and that motivated me to push much harder," she panted.
Neither she nor the other competitors wanted to say what they had been jailed for.
Eighty-four prisoners qualified to represent the region at the national championship in Durban on February 18 and 19.
Cynthia Selala, from Middleburg, Mpumalanga, believed doing sport in prison would make her a better person.
"I always wanted to run since my school days," she said.
Thebe Mokunke, 32, from Rooigrond prison near Mahikeng, North West, wanted to carry on running when he was released in 2020.
"I intend to do marathons, including the Comrades marathon. I discovered my talent in prison and want to continue running after my prison days."
Regional head of correctional services, Mandla Mkhwanazi, likened the department to a dry cleaner whose role it was to "clean" criminals. It was up to the world to accept offenders as changed people when they got back into society.
He said sport was good for offenders because it gave them hope.