Inmates use 67 minutes to do good

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pretoria - Probationers, parolees and inmates from Baviaanspoort correctional centre used their 67 minutes to show their community they are prepared to work hard to gain their forgiveness.

The former Baviaanspoort inmates rolled up their sleeves, cleaning Mamelodi Hospital on Mandela Day. They told BuaNews that they sincerely regret their past actions and would like to be united with their communities, and not be discriminated.

Philip Mashidi, a former inmate at Baviaanspoort who is on now parole, said he will spend his 67 minutes serving the community as a way of showing how sorry he is.

"I'm excited to take part in the campaign and I'm willing to do anything to help my community," he said.

Mashidi made an impassionate plea to the community to accept him. "I have done wrong in the past but now I am a changed person."

As part of celebrating former President Nelson Mandela's birthday - which is also observed as Mandela Day - people throughout the country and the rest of the world are called on to commit 67 minutes of their time to make an imprint and help change the world around them. Mandela spent 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of all.

Mandela Day is now celebrated annually on 18 July. Mandela turns 93 today.

About 25 inmates from Baviaanspoort have been sent to Mamelodi Hospital to clean the yard and floors, and to help with the cooking and making beds.

Another group of about 15 former female inmates is at a nearby Mmalerato Care Center to help with feeding the kids, among other things. The group has volunteered its services at the centre also as a way of apologising to their communities.

One of the inmates, Selina Ngake, said that taking part in the campaign is part of her rehabilitation process.

"We ... have made mistakes in the past and that has changed. We are now better people," Ngake said.

Ngake, who is also from Mamelodi, was released from prison on 10 November 2008 after serving a few years for an undisclosed offence.