Forgiveness is offender’s Mandela Day wish

Friday, July 18, 2014

Johannesburg – Thirty-year-old Sibusiso Bhengu, an offender incarcerated at the Leeukop Correctional Centre in Johannesburg, says he is glad he had an opportunity to interact with the outside world on Mandela Day.

Bhengu, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, government officials and other offenders from the prison planted a vegetable garden as part of their 67 minutes for Madiba.

Mandela Day, on 18 July, calls on South Africans to dedicate 67 minutes of their time to serve their community in various ways. This is the first Mandela Day since the former President Nelson Mandela passed away in December.

Bhengu, who is currently serving the last month of his three-year sentence after being convicted for fraud, pleaded with the public at large to follow in the footsteps of the struggle icon in having the ability to forgive former offenders.

“Since being in the correctional centre I have changed and I have been corrected. I ask to be given a second chance in society. I understand that committing fraud was wrong.”

He said he had acquired skills in agriculture while carrying out his sentence at the facility in northern Johannesburg and would like to use them when he is released.

Minister Motshekga said Mandela Day was a time for South Africans to reflect on the road that the country has travelled.

She added that Madiba had taught the country the important lesson of forgiveness and discipline.

“It is important to forgive those who have wronged us, as South Africans we should not judge anyone but rather give them a second chance.”

Minister Motshekga said it was up to every South African to give offenders a second chance, especially those who have served their sentences at a correctional centre and have paid their dues to society.

The minister, who was accompanied by Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla, added that Madiba had kept a vegetable garden while in prison, which he used as an opportunity to interact with other struggle heroes. –

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