KwaShange village on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg was a scene of celebration, on 15 March 2023, as locals came to witness the handing over of a newly built house to the Mbanjwa family.
This follows a disaster that befell the family on 09 November 2022, when devastating floods destroyed their home, leaving Khanyisile Mbanjwa and seven children under her care without shelter. Inspired by the spirit of Ubuntu, the neighbours responded swiftly to provide temporary accommodation to the family, while the local Councillor from uMgungundlovu Municipality, Mlungisi Zondi also sprang into action to seek assistance to build them a new house. His search for help for the destitute family led him to the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) Soventein Community Corrections office and Gift of the Givers. The two organisations joined hands to restore the dignity of the Mbanjwa family, with DCS providing offender labour and Gift of the Givers sponsoring building material.
DCS National Commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale graced the occasion and praised the partnership between DCS and the Gift of the Givers. He also commended the amazing work done by parolees who used the skills they learned whilst under incarceration to the benefit of the Mbanjwa family. Commissioner Thobakgale stated that the offenders find themselves under incarceration because they have committed a crime by taking away something from someone, but was encouraged that the good deeds of many parolees and ex-offenders, saying that this is an affirmation that the rehabilitation programmes rendered by DCS are effective. “He said their deeds epitomizes the dictum that says, “the best among people are those who benefit mankind”. He added that the stupendous work done by the parolees will go a long way in redefining their role in society.
The Commissioner paid tribute to DCS officials across the country for their benevolence and solidarity by going beyond the call of duty and dipping into their pockets to provide much needed aid to victims of the recent deadly floods that ravaged parts of the country, including KwaZulu-Natal. He added that like it is with the Gift of the Givers, the culture of giving embodies what Correctional Services stands for. “Our officials take from the meagre salaries to buy food and clothes which they give to communities in need,” he said.
He appealed to the community and all sectors of society to work together to prevent crime, adding that the exponential increase in inmate population is untenable. In the same vein, he implored families and communities to support, and welcome parolees back into their fold when they are released, saying that this will lessen the likelihood of them relapsing into a life of crime. He singled out the critical role played by the church in ensuring that children are well-grounded and have good role models.
Regional Commissioner of KwaZulu-Natal, Mnikelwa Nxele said the handover of the house to the Mbanjwa family is part of ongoing efforts by the democratic government to restore the dignity of historically disadvantaged groups and to redress the injustices of the past.
Khanyisile Mbanjwa conveyed the family’s appreciation to the neighbours for being an ever-present in their time of need, and expressed profound gratitude to DCS and Gift of the Givers for working together to build them a home.