Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla visited the impoverished community of Doornkop, outside Middleburg, on 21 June 2018, inspired by the clarion call of “Thuma Mina”, made by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address (SoNA). The Deputy Minister’s Youth Imbizo was also held in honour of the youth of 16 June 1976, many of whom perished under the barrel of apartheid police guns. Their cardinal sin was taking a stand against repressive apartheid laws. “From that day, we knew that we were under a government that had no respect for the life of a Black person,” Makwetla recounted.
The Deputy Minister’s visit also brought relief to 20 beneficiaries who received wheelchairs in order to aid their mobility, but critically, restore their human dignity. Among the recipients were local disabled persons and the elderly. Makwetla said the gesture should inspire the community to be selfless and help those in need. “As people, do not only be preoccupied by what is coming your way and your family, care for others as well,” he said.
Makwetla expressed that freedom that is devoid of development but characterised by talk and slogans is not true freedom. “Freedom is development; it’s material change to people’s lives,” continued Makwetla. He urged the people to heed the call of President Ramaphosa and join hands with government to bring about accelerated development in their communities.
Young people appealed for intervention on a number of challenges that hinder development in the area. The following challenges were raised:
- Offenders pleading for amnesty
- Criminal records encumbering ex-offenders from securing employment when they are released
- Lack of proper housing, roads, electricity and water
- Lack of bursary opportunities for the youth
- Insufficient government funding and support to help the youth to start their own businesses
- Request for computers with internet connection at local youth centres
- Releasing arable land to young people for agricultural production
- Youth empowerment programmes offered by DCS
- Lack of work experience preventing youth graduates from entering the job market.
Member of the Steve Tshwete Municipal Council, Johan Matshiane responded to service delivery challenges and provided a progress report on various projects which are planned to bring services to the people.
Acting Chief Deputy Commissioner: Community Corrections Veliswa Mvandaba said the department offers bursaries, internships and learnership programmes to young people. She said the department also provides start-up kits to ex-offenders to help them start their own businesses when they are released. Acting Deputy Regional Commissioner for the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West (LMN) Region Kenneth Mthombeni said the department is engaged in various community development initiatives, such as the Back-to-School and Ambassadors’ programmes, which involves ex-offenders visiting schools to speak to learners about the dangers of crime.