Reach­ing out from prison

Mur­derer makes amends by throw­ing party, fix­ing house for granny, 102

The Herald (South Africa) - - NEWS - Hen­drick Mphande mphan­deh@ti­soblack­star.co.za

THE lives of a con­victed mur­derer and a 102-year-old grand­mother con­nected yes­ter­day – de­spite them hav­ing never met – when the St Al­bans in­mate threw her a birth­day party af­ter or­gan­is­ing for her home to be ren­o­vated.

Bonga Moun­tain, 35 – who is serv­ing 25 years for mur­der – wanted to make amends by reach­ing out to the com­mu­nity through projects for the el­derly.

To do that, he called on friends and fam­ily – Ba­balwa Rafane, 30, Zandile Moun­tain, 21, and Mzwandile Sododo – to help him iden­tify el­derly peo­ple in need.

Yes­ter­day, Moun­tain’s friends ar­ranged a birth­day party for Nonzwakazi Twecu, of Walmer, af­ter the trio – us­ing Moun­tain’s funds – ren­o­vated the pen­sioner’s home.

While Twecu’s birth­day is only next week – when she turns 103 – the group de­cided on a pre-party when she re­turned to her newly painted home.

Aside from the paint job, the friends re­moved a num­ber of bro­ken win­dows in the house and re­placed them with alu­minium win­dow frames and new glass.

They then cleared the bushes be­hind the house and in the yard.

All this was or­gan­ised by Moun­tain from St Al­bans.

A frail-look­ing Twecu was flanked by her friends and fam­ily when she was handed her birth­day cake yes­ter­day.

Fungile Twecu, 63, said his mother was ex­cited by the good­will shown by Moun­tain and his friends

“They do not even know us. They are not even work­ing but took it upon them­selves to help. We are very grate­ful,” he said.

Fungile said for a very long time his mother had lived in deplorable con­di­tions.

Moun­tain learnt pot­tery and the art of mak­ing wooden key-hold­ers and beads while in prison.

When his friends or rel­a­tives vis­ited, he would then give them items to sell.

With the lit­tle col­lected, he and his team iden­tify vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies with the aim of up­lift­ing them. Moun­tain ex­pressed re­morse yes­ter­day for the mur­der he com­mit­ted dur­ing a rob­bery in 2006.

He said: “I did a lot of in­tro­spec­tion while here. I asked my­self what I could do bet­ter to pay back so­ci­ety for the wrongs I have done.

“I had a grand­mother who never raised me to be a crim­i­nal, but sent me to school to be a bet­ter person.” he said.

It was be­cause of his grand­mother, Nosezile, that he had de­cided to help the el­derly.

While in prison, he was ex­posed to sev­eral re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grammes which helped him to gain a bet­ter per­spec­tive about the life of crime and its im­pact on the wider com­mu­nity. “I in­formed the De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices that I wanted to change. They then pro­vided me with [arts and craft] skills.

“The wrong things we do, not only af­fect us but fam­i­lies and the com­mu­nity.”

When asked if he hoped his acts of good­will would help him in a bid for pa­role when the time came, Moun­tain said: “I do not do this for pa­role.

“I have been here 10 years. I will leave once the de­part­ment de­cides it’s time. I want to fix the wrongs I have done.

“I am sorry for what I did. I pray that so­ci­ety will see true change in me.”

The de­part­ment had not com­mented by the time of go­ing to print.

Pic­ture: HEN­DRICK MPHANDE

GRAND OC­CA­SION: Ntombethemba Twecu, 30, with her grand­mother, Nonzwakazi

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