NEVER GIVE UP: Minister Sibusiso Ndebele congratulates Helen Lesenyane, who took to teaching convicts when she couldn’t get work.
Hard work and determination pay off. This became true for Helen Lesenyane, a correctional services officer who scooped the best education and training award at the department’s recent National Excellence Awards held in Polokwane.
Lesenyane, 39, from North West, overcame the disappointment of failing to secure a teaching job at the beginning of 2000 and decided to join correctional services where she is giving a second chance to inmates wishing to finish their studies while in prison.
She decided to volunteer her services to correctional services in 2002 and eventually joined the department as an officer. Her teaching passion soon kicked in and led her to win the education and training award for 2012/2013.
The overwhelmed Leseyane said that winning top position had just given her more determination to continue impacting on the lives of prisoners.
“I’m so excited to have won this award. I never thought I would reach such heights. All I hoped for, going to Polokwane, was at least a place in the top three but winning the category has just humbled me,” she said.
Lesenyane competed against five other officers from correctional services’s regions across the country.
“This development means I’m moving forward with my career because I competed against some from well-resourced regions like Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. I hope this will open up new opportunities for me as well,” she said. She also thanked those around her, whom she said played a part in her success.
“I work with two colleagues and the support from our unit manager also needs mentioning. Pupils I teach equally played a part because if it was not for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she said.
Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said efforts from officers like Lesenyane have made education compulsory in prisons.