TALES OF OUR TIMES
Prisons Dept help impoverished family build for a brighter future
When Selebi-Phikwe Prisons and Rehabilitation Department handed over a house last week to a 17 member family that had been living in a broken-down shack, they shattered two popular misconceptions.
They exposed the myth that prison authorities are only concerned with crime and punishment, and students from poverty stricken homes are most often underachievers.
The department brought dignity and smiles to the Mmotlana family of Tobane village 20 kms from Phikwe. The generous gesture came after one of the children Odirileng Mmotlana, passed her PSLE examinations in 2010. Odirileng, now 18 and currently in form two at Motlhasedi CJSS, passed her standard seven leaving exams with distinction under the extreme and harsh living conditions the family were forced to endure.
The commander of Phikwe prisons Gabriel Magole, described Odirileng’s performance as ‘inspirational.’ “When we were informed of her results and saw the make shift and overcrowded house that she shared with her extensive family, it touched us.
“We realised that if she could do well under such difficult circumstances, then with better living conditions nothing would stop her. The family were living in unbearable hardship and the thought of doing something tangible to help inspired us,” he said.
Handing over the keys Magole explained that they started to mobilise resources and the work force to begin construction of the P43 000 two and a half roomed house last year.
Odirileng’s mother, Gosetsemang Mmotlana, 40, said that life had been difficult for them. “I have seven children and 10 grandchildren and none of them are working. There are six girls and one boy and all of them are cohabiting except for the boy and Odirileng who are still at school.”
Gosetsemang who has health problems said that they are not enrolled in social grant schemes except for the provision of uniforms to the school going children.
She acknowledged that her children are not making the situation any better as they continue to bear children though her first-born is only 35. “Right now they have dumped their children with me but I cannot afford to feed them. I am also not feeling well and cannot work in the Ipelegeng programme due to my deteriorating health.”
For her part, soft spoken Odirileng expressed her grateful appreciation to the prisons department. “The terrible conditions that I endured have taught me to study hard and made me realise that I can achieve anything in life. I am going to study even harder to uplift my family and will not disappoint the prisons department,” she said as tears formed in her eyes.
She urged those who might be living in similar conditions not to give up on life or let their conditions define them.
The prisons department pledged that they would monitor Odirileng’s academic performance and help her achieve her goals.
The Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe officially handed over the house to the family.