Ex-convicts cement skills in Soweto


A group of prisoners recently paroled from jails in Gauteng made use of the skills they got behind bars and rebuilt the house of a Soweto family that was gutted by a fire.

26/09/2017. Parolees Mpho Dikgane, Thabo Mokoala, Richmond Tau and Kabelo Mhlongo sit outside a house that they help built after it was destroyed by fire.
Picture: Masi Losi

The seven former offenders, who were jailed for violent crimes ranging from hijacking to robbery, fixed the fire-ravaged house of a family in Moletsane, Soweto.

Four of the seven handed the house over to the family yesterday.

“They have shown they are sorry for their previous actions and want to rebuild the community,” said Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla.

Mpho Dikgale, Thabo Makoala, Richmond Tau and Kabelo Mhlongo all spent time behind bars for robbery.

“We are happy that the community has accepted us. We are from Soweto and the people have welcomed us,” said Tau.

The group has been involved in a number of building projects with the correctional services department.

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

“Some people choose to smoke their things. We chose not to,” said Dikgale.

“It’s all about the choices. We made the decision to change our lives,” Tau said.

Community members approached the young men after the ceremony, shook hands and embraced them as they beamed with pride outside the house.

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’s owner, Motlalepula Diraditsela, said yesterday the family could not believe their good fortune.

“I am so happy we have a brand new house,” she said.



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