Correctional services, Gift of the Givers join forces to make dreams come true

30 July 2023 - 10:43 By MFUNDO MKHIZE
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Stofelina Zuma celebrates her new home.
Stofelina Zuma celebrates her new home.
Image: Mfundo Mkhize

Worrying about sleeping in a waterlogged bed is now a thing of the past for KwaZulu-Natal pensioner Stofelina Zuma, who this week took ownership of a brand-new six-roomed house.

This is all thanks to a partnership between the department of correctional services and the Gift of the Givers Foundation.

“I am at a loss for words. I have been sleeping in a bed that resembles a dam. Only God can be the one who expresses gratitude on my behalf. I am just excited,” said Zuma.

The 74-year-old praised uMgungundlovu councillor Mzi Zuma for leading a campaign which ensured she now has a house to call a home, one she shares with six others.

Acting deputy regional commissioner in KwaZulu-Natal Dina Mtsweni said Zulu was among victims of the heavy rain which battered the Sweetwaters area early this year.

“In the aftermath of the rains, the department was approached by the councillor who pleaded for us to intervene,” said Mtsweni.

She said while the department was keen to step in, it grappled with the challenge of not having funds to make the plea a reality. This prompted the department to approach Gift of the Givers, which sprang in to action by providing building materials.

The house, which was built by inmates, took about six weeks to complete, Mtsweni said, adding that prisoners possess multiple skills.

“We try to teach them skills that they can use once they are released so they are able to live and not reoffend,” said Mtsweni.

The department recently built houses in the Mpumuza and KwaShange areas.

“We may not have funds but the labour is available,” she said of similar handovers in other areas of the province to dovetail with Mandela Day festivities

She urged service providers to rally behind such initiatives.

“We are doing this specifically during the Mandela month to tell the public that while the inmates may have fallen foul of the law there is something that they can do. Corrections is a societal responsibility.”

Khulekani Ndlovu, 43, who was sentenced to 27 years in prison in 2011, said he was pleased he had made a difference. “I am happy that I have now played a role in the community,” said Ndlovu, who has obtained several certificates while incarcerated after undergoing training in different disciplines.

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