Unrelenting downpours did little to dampen the mood of the ecstatic recipients of 100 wheelchairs handed over by Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla on 15 February in Botshabelo, Free State. The wheelchairs, which were donated by the Hillsong denomination in Australia and assembled by offenders from the Grootvlei Management Area will aid the mobility of beneficiaries and restore their human dignity. Among the recipients, were elderly and disabled persons from Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu.
The donation represented a huge relief and is a beacon of hope for most recipients, whose dignity was stripped due to their limited mobility. Many of the recipients come from poverty-stricken families and harboured little hope of help coming their way. They expressed profound gratitude for the generosity of those involved in the project. Many people have already benefited from this noble initiative, and plans are afoot to roll out the project to other parts of the country.
Deputy Minister Makwetla reserved special praise to Western Cape Regional Commissioner Delekile Klaas for going beyond the call of duty to mobilise local and international donors to provide wheelchairs for the most vulnerable in society. “This initiative shows our commitment to work tirelessly, in the spirit of partnership and collaboration with various sectors and other government departments, to improve the livelihood of the citizens of South Africa,” said Makwetla.
The offenders assembled the wheelchairs as a way to demonstrate remorse for the wrongs they committed, but the gesture is also a form of reparation to the community who were harmed by their actions.
The MEC of Health in the Free State province, Montsheng Tsiu, commended Deputy Minister Makwetla and the department for going beyond the call of duty to respond to the needs of vulnerable and marginalised groups in society. Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Lechesa Tsenoli who hails from the area graced the occasion, and extoled the generosity of those involved in the donation of the wheelchairs.
Makwetla said that a project of this nature presents an ideal opportunity for offenders to use the skills they acquired in DCS to bring about a positive change in society. “It is therefore important for them to use these skills and their time to work in community projects that improve the living conditions of the poor and marginalised in the community,” he said.
Also present at the event was the Free State and Northern Cape Regional Commissioner Subashni Moodley, her deputy Kenneth Mthombeni, acting CDC Community Corrections Veliswa Mvandaba, and representatives from the South African Police Service, and Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality.