For­mer con­vict’s new lease on life

Vuk'uzenzele - - Front Page - Para­para Mak­gahlela

At age (17) Maleeto Mabe was al­ready a con­victed mur­derer. While in a cor­rec­tional cen­tre she took a de­ci­sion to change her ways to en­sure a bet­ter fu­ture for her­self.

She is now 25 and is a su­per­vi­sor with the Work­ing on Fire (WOF) pro­gramme.

WOF is an Ex­panded Pub­lic Works Pro­gramme funded by the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs.

The pro­gramme trains young peo­ple to be­come veld and for­est fire fight­ers. There are more than 200 teams sta­tioned through­out South Africa.

Mabe re­ceived an op­por­tu­nity to be part of WOF through the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice’s parolee pro­gramme.

She is now a crew leader of 23 peo­ple at the Bai­ley Na­ture Re­serve team in Carl­tonville.

Mabe said her rein­te­gra­tion into WOF has given her a se­cond chance.

“I am sav­ing lives and pro­tect­ing our en­vi­ron­ment.”

In the pro­gramme, she said she was able to go through the dif­fer­ent pro­cesses of heal­ing.

At the age of 15 Mabe was play­ing pool at a lo­cal shop in her com­mu­nity in Bekkers­dal in Gaut­eng.

“I ac­ci­dently stamped on an­other man’s foot and I apol­o­gised to him for the mis­take.”

The 27-year-old man that Mabe stum­bled over took her mis­take to heart and started swear­ing at her and re­fused to ac­cept the apol­ogy.

“He kept com­ing at me and in­tim­i­dat­ing me. I lost con­trol of my anger and went into a house nearby where the ex­change of words was hap­pen­ing. I found a knife and stabbed him and he died.”

The po­lice were called and she was ar­rested and a two-year trial fol­lowed.

“In 2012 I was given the ti­tle of con­victed mur­derer.”

Mabe was sent to a cor­rec­tional cen­tre to serve her 15-year sen­tence.

“When I ar­rived at the cor­rec­tional cen­tre I took part in pro­grammes such as anger man­age­ment and I at­tended ses­sions with a psy­chol­o­gist.”

She said while go­ing through the process of heal­ing she re­alised that her anger to­wards men came from be­ing aban­doned by her fa­ther.

“I grew up alone with my grand­mother. There were no male fig­ures in my life and I al­ways thought that I should al­ways pro­tect my­self be­cause I had no one to pro­tect me.”

In 2013 Mabe was re­leased on pa­role af­ter serv­ing one year of her sen­tence.

Although there is a stigma at­tached to for­mer con­victs, Mabe is not de­terred from liv­ing her best life.

“I am sav­ing

lives and pro­tect­ing our en­vi­ron­ment”

Maleeto Mabe has re­ceived a se­cond chance in life thanks to the Work­ing on Fire pro­gramme.

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