Abdullah Simelane was the oldest of the 235 inmates who wrote their matric last year and the 52-year-old passed with flying colours.
Simelane who is serving a 23-year jail term for rape at the Barberton prison in Mpumalanga said he hopes achieving his matric will open doors for him.
The father of two said he was sentenced in 2015 and being incarcerated has given him time to see things differently and realise the value of education.
“If I had an opportunity to study back then, I don’t think I would have committed this crime,” he told TimesLIVE.
He dropped out of school as a teenager, a choice he said was out of his hands.
“Things were really tough for me. My family could not afford to pay for my school fees and other things I needed and I saw dropping out as the only thing,” he said.
Simelane said he hopes to get funding so that he can continue furthering his education. His dream is to enrol for a degree in political science.
Inmates serving in South African correctional facilities scored a 77.3% matric pass rate for the 2018 academic year, which is two percentage points lower than the 79.42% national average. The result however is an increase on last year’s 76.7% pass rate.
In a statement, the department of correctional services said Simelane was one of the most notable matriculants from their centres as he received a bachelor pass and was the oldest candidate.