About 2000 offenders from across the country helped setting a new world record for the largest crochet blanket in the world. A massive blanket larger than the initial goal of 15 000 m2 shimmered with exquisite colours and patterns on a piece of land directly across the entrance to Drakenstein Correctional Centre on Friday, 22 April, to symbolically amplify the occasion of being declared the new world record holders.
All three partners in this endeavour, being 67 Blankets for Mandela Day, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and DCS, worked tirelessly for months on end to get sufficient quantities of wool donated for this blanket – a whopping 60 tonnes of it. Managing and coordinating the actual making of it was another feat, which would not have been possible without the buy-in of DCS officials. They and the offenders, the majority of them males in maximum facilities, took to this project with ease since 2015. Engaging in a hand craft traditionally viewed as women’s domain seemed not to matter at all.
The momentum of goodwill achieved by this project was remarkable, as the campaign leader for 67 Blankets for Mandela Day, Carolyn Steyn remarked shortly after the announcement: “It was so special because I saw South Africans coming together with one common goal to do something for someone less fortunate, in the name of Nelson Mandela”.
DCS rallied its troops under the campaign slogan, “Knitting broken lives and our nation together”.
The more than 10 000 blankets, which were used in making the 17 181 m2 record breaking blanket, will all be donated to various charities, orphanages and homeless people across South Africa. Once the euphoria of breaking the record, held by India for a blanket just over 11 000 m2, the logistics of undoing the blanket and transporting the smaller pieces back to their places of origin will begin.
Several donation events will be held in the participating management areas. It is important that these do not go unnoticed.
The event was officiated by both Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla and Minister Michael Masutha. Speaking on behalf of the offenders Minister Masutha said the message from them was to say: “We may not have been in our right mind when we committed crime, but this is an example of the solidarity we demonstrate to our fellow South Africans and making up for our mistakes”.