Paroled inmates rebuild gutted house as a 'labour of love'

26 September 2017 - 16:32 By Naledi Shange
Parolees Mpho Dikgane, Thabo Mokoala, Richmond Tau and Kabelo Mhlongo sit outside a house that they helped rebuild after it was destroyed by fire.
Parolees Mpho Dikgane, Thabo Mokoala, Richmond Tau and Kabelo Mhlongo sit outside a house that they helped rebuild after it was destroyed by fire.
Image: Masi Losi

A group of inmates recently paroled from several prison facilities around the province have made use of the skills they acquired while inside prison and used them for the good of their community.

The seven ex-offenders rebuilt the house of a family in Moletsane‚ Soweto‚ which was gutted by a fire caused by an electric fault two months ago.

On Tuesday‚ the group was joined by Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla as they handed over the house to the family.

Makwetla described their actions as "labours of love"‚ showing that they were rehabilitated and willing to be valuable members of society.

"They have shown that they are sorry for their previous actions and want to rebuild the community‚" he said.

Four of the seven men were present for the handover ceremony. Mpho Dikgale‚ Thabo Makoala‚ Richmond Tau and Kabelo Mhlongo had all spent time behind bars for robbery.

"We are happy that the community has accepted us. We are from Soweto and the people of Soweto have welcomed us‚" said Tau.

The group has been involved in numerous building projects‚ along with the Department of Correctional Services.

"When you're in jail‚ you can choose which skills you want to acquire from being a builder‚ to electrician and all that. You can choose not to do anything too. It's all up to you.

“Some people choose to stick around and smoke their things. We chose not to‚" said Dikgale.

"It’s all about the choices you make. We made the decision to change our lives‚" Tau said.

Some community members approached the young men after the ceremony and shook their hands and embraced them as they beamed with pride outside the house they had built.

Makwetla said it was important to note that the rehabilitation process was not simply the duty of the correctional services department.

"If we‚ as communities don't work with those behind bars‚ what are they coming back for?" he asked community members gathered at the handing over ceremony.

"Crime alienates criminals from labour and no one can live without labour‚" he said.

The house owner‚ Motlalepula Diraditsela‚ said they were in disbelief of their fortune.

"I am so happy we now have a brand new house‚" she said.

 

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