South Africa: Changing Lives, Restoring Dignity

For many years, Anna Letwaba, who is disabled, has been relying on her daughter to move her around the house - however, this will be a thing of the past, thanks to a wheelchair donated by the Department of Correctional Services.

Aged 56, Letwaba from Themba extension one in Hammanskraal, North of Tshwane, was among 20 disabled people from nine wards in the greater Hammanskraal, who received wheelchairs handed over by Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla.

The wheelchairs were donated by Hillsong Church in Australia, and were assembled by inmates, as part of their rehabilitation and reintegration efforts towards repairing the harm caused against society.

Letwaba said the wheelchair will assist her to move freely in the house, as opposed to waiting for her daughter to come back from school to assist her.

"Today, I'm very happy because I was struggling to do everything at home, even when I want to go to the toilet, I had to wait for my daughter to come back from school to take me. Now I will be able to go to the kitchen and make some food and go to the toilet," said an elated Letwaba.

Handing over the wheelchairs at the ceremony held at Mandela Hall in Hammanskraal on Tuesday, Makwetla urged communities to give inmates a second chance.

He said one of the primary missions of corrections is to develop and implement correctional programmes that balance the concepts of deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation for individuals in correctional facilities.

"Our offenders are a very important community that our communities out there must not forget about. We want to change our country to become a humane and caring society and it can only succeed if all of us are of the same mind. They are saying please give us a chance to build the broken relationships we have with our communities ... give us a second chance.

"Our Constitution says we must have a country where all citizens are treated equally and enjoy human rights.

"What is important is for these communities to see correctional centres with a different eye, to see the world with a different understanding ... and that's why we are here today. We want the community of Hamanskraal to see what the department does with these offenders; the challenges faced and what we can do together to make life better in our country," the Deputy Minister said.

Makwetla also reminded the community that the struggles in the country is not only about creating jobs, but also restoring dignity to disabled people.

The department has to date, handed over 2 000 wheelchairs to people with disabilities throughout the country.

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