Minister Michael Masutha and Gauteng Regional Commissioner Grace Molatedi unveiled a plaque to mark the renaming of Johannesburg’s Naturena halfway house after gallant community activist, Nonhlanhla Lettie Mthembu.
Minister Michael Masutha brought tears of joy to the Mthembu family when he renamed the state owned halfway house (Victory House) in Naturena, South of Johannesburg after their daughter and gallant activist, Nonhlanhla Lettie “Stompie” Mthembu on 13 December 2018. Ms Nonhlanhla Mthembu is a former councillor who died tragically during the City of Johannesburg’s first Council meeting in August 2016 after the municipal elections.
A plaque was also unveiled in memory of Mthembu during an intimate event attended by her family and the community. The halfway house now named “Nonhlanhla Lettie Mthembu” belongs to DCS and is one of the six active partnerships for community-based residential facilities that the department is involved in.
“In my early days in the Johannesburg Council, I became familiar with the highly energetic Stompie Mthembu. She stretched herself between campaigning activities and community outreach, making the city’s people her ultimate focus. She had the courage to confront communities on issues that affect the people and her selfless contributions prevail even in her passing,” Masutha shared.
The public tend to focus on attitudes to crime and sentencing, rather than on the specifics of offender reintegration. Gauteng Regional Commissioner Grace Molatedi said Councillor Mthembu was pivotal to the societal acceptance of the halfway house in Naturena. “At first, the community was highly sceptical of newly released offenders in their midst. Her persistence for community acceptance helped the project realise in its first pilot launch in 2012,” she said. The house has remained operational to date, and nearly a hundred paroled residents have been efficaciously reintegrated into their communities.
The halfway house accommodates six residents and is currently contracted to Collin Nxumalo who runs an organisation called Compra. A halfway house is not an extension of a correctional centre, but is more of a home away from home. The concept has taken fair leverage as a much needed catalyst in the down management of overcrowding through the release of those offenders eligible for parole, but without support systems in the community.
Minister Masutha later addressed a packed Johannesburg Recreational Hall and said, “The entire correctional system is a halfway house. It is where those who have wronged are able to pause and reflect on how they have derailed through life and ultimately find their way back”. He shared that halfway houses afford an opportunity to ease the reintegration of offenders into communities.