Graaff-reinet Help pours in for poverty-stricken local
GRAAFF-REINET — The story of the plight of 57-year-old Katie Stoffels was highlighted recently by ENCA after she was found to be living in extreme poverty in a local township.
As a result of the publicity generated, largely through the persistence of DA councillor Samantha Graham, life has improved dramatically for Katie.
When Cllr Graham originally met Katie, she was put in touch with an anonymous benefactor who sent R 7000 to use for uplifting Katie. This money was used to start construction of an addition to her brother’s house, in the form of a small zinc structure with an inside toilet and basin.
Following the airing of the piece on ENCA, Ms Dunga, who heads up the Correctional The Mayor and Mrs Gcakasi giving Katie the keys to her new room, watched by Cllr Graham. Services Facility in Graaff-reinet, got in touch with Cllr Graham to see where her Department could assist. Cllr Graham took her to meet Katie and showed her what had been done so far. Ms Dunga spoke to her superiors, including her Regional Commissioner, Mr Breakfast, and Area Commissioner, Mrs Gcakasi. Mr Nyiki, head of the Kirkwood Prison and Acting Area Commissioner, came through to Graaff-reinet and together with Ms Dunga and Mr Lutya, who is in charge of Community Correctional Services, they determined that they would increase the size of the structure. They provided materials and labour so that the structure was almost doubled in size. They also clad the whole interior, provided a ceiling, painted the inside and furnished it. The room has a bed, with new bedding, curtains, tables and pots and pans. Crockery, cutlery, a kettle and a stove have all been provided by the Department of Correctional Services. Ms Dunga set up the whole room for Katie on the day before the handover. The glass for the windows and floor coverings were donated by Buks and Gillian Kleynhans of National Glass and a brand new comforter was handed over by Constable Clintin Jooste on behalf of the Community Policing Forum.
The official handover took place on Friday, November 3, with a number of dignitaries present.
“It was a really special occasion and Katie was somewhat overwhelmed at the attention and importance of the event,” said Cllr Graham. “She is absolutely thrilled with her new room and was looking forward to moving into it that night”.
Cllr Graham then was given the opportunity to thank everyone who had made this possible, including Thembani Klaasen, the DA activist in Ward 6 who first alerted Cllr Graham to Katie’s plight. She also thanked Katie’s brother, James Stoffels, for being prepared to take her in and to take care of her.
The Mayor spoke about how it took one person to care enough about another person to make something like this happen, and that this should be a lesson to all present that they are doing the work they do because they are supposed to be improving the lives of people in their communities. He said that there is no excuse for public representatives not to be doing everything they can to uplift their communities. He also thanked Cllr Graham specifically for the efforts she had made on Katie’s behalf.
Mrs Gcakasi of Correctional Services said that this was the first project that they had undertaken in Graaff-reinet and that they looked forward to doing more in this area. Cllr Graham assured her that they would find plenty of projects for the Department to get involved in, as there are many more people who are living lives of quiet desperation in this community.