On 10 June 2021, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa, held a Community Imbizo at Mathanzima Village, Upper Dadamba at Gatyana, Eastern Cape. Deputy Minister Holomisa also handed over a newly built and fully furnished house to a destitute family headed by an elderly member of the village, Ms Noprivate Peter (67). The two bedroom brick house, which has become a symbol of hope in Upper Dadamba, was built using skills imparted to offenders through skills development programmes.
Peter’s dilapidated mud rondavel was identified during a Department of Correctional Services (DCS) women’s month outreach in a nearby area in August 2020. The structure was in no condition to house any human being, the walls were barely standing and the exposed areas covered by corrugated iron sheets. DCS officials saw a need for intervention.
“I am so grateful to the Department of Correctional Services and God for rescuing me and my family because I was in a devastating situation. I was living in a house that was falling apart and during rainy seasons, the house would be flooded with water. Today the dignity of my family has been restored,” said Mama Peter. Donations have been sourced from officials, departmental stakeholders and partners to purchase building material and furniture for the family. Peter stays with her son and three grandchildren and they survive on child support and old age grants.
“It is my belief that we can never boast to be free whilst senior citizens of our country continue to suffer and do not enjoy all of their rights as enshrined in our Constitution,” said Deputy Minister Holomisa, addressing the community during the Imbizo and handover ceremony.
He further explained that one of the decisions that he and Minister Lamola had taken was not only to concentrate on the rehabilitation of offenders, but also to pay attention to the plight of the victims of crime. He said the Department will do this by either using the skills of offenders to do something directly for the victims or do something good for poor and vulnerable community members such as the Peter family. He said the DCS wants to correct the perception that it is only concerned about the well-being of offenders instead of victims who have been offended and deprived of their breadwinners and supports in their families.
Community members spoke in one accord that the house built for the Peter family and the visit by Deputy Minister Holomisa were events that renewed their hope in Government. Ms Nosapho Nqanqani, a community member at Mathanzima village, said the Imbizo is the first of its kind in Upper Dadamba, and thanked DCS for reaching out to the community.
Deputy Executive Mayor for Amathole District, Cllr Winnie Nxawe, said government is doing its best to bring services to the people despite the limited resources. She assured the community that the government is now ensuring that community members have a voice and exercise their right in choosing the people they want as their ward councillors and that the leaders they have chosen have an obligation to report about the progress of services regularly to communities.
Deputy Minister Holomisa said the presence of all the government entities at the Imbizo was a reflection of the fulfilment of president Ramaphosa’s vision of the District Development Model.
Emphasizing the importance of working together, he said building a more caring society is a responsibility that cannot be carried by government alone, but a challenge that has to be taken up by the entirety of our people.
The Department of Correctional Services plans to continue identifying beneficiaries in different communities around the country and display this kind gesture as a way of giving back to communities through offender labour.