Sport plays a vital role in the rehabilitation of offenders in South Africa’s prison.

Judo is one of the sports used and the programme is run in conjunction with Judo South Africa.

The aim is to give the participants a good base and give the inmates a chance to continue with it when they are released.

A rehabilitation program at St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth is starting to take full shape as there are more than 60 inmates taking part in it.

The rehabilitation project is spearheaded by Judo South Africa in an attempt to instill hope and confidence amongst inmates, jailed for serious crimes.

The federation hopes to use Judo as a tool to promote good values with hope that some of the inmates would become professional Judokas one day after they had been released from prison.

St Albans Prison is a place known for violent clashes between inmates and warders. The aim is now to channel this energy into something positive.

Judo is being re-introduced into the prison system after an initial programme failed due to a lack of funding.

“After they had been released, we want them to become professional judokas in years to come. We are making a difference to them and we want them to be rehabilitated when they get to their communities one day. So, judo will provide hope to them,” said  project manager, Sondisa Magajana.

Luvuyo Kuluman is a convicted bank robber and has already spent five years in prison. He is very positive about the Judo project.

“This project is going to help, especially young inmates whom have been arrested for serious crimes. you could see inmates are happy and this is what we need,” he said.

Warders hope the project also alleviates some of the challenges they face. The initiative will be introduced to other prisons as part of a national roll-out by Judo South Africa.