With a broad smile on his face, Monwabisi Tyewu battled to hold back tears of joy as he received a newly revamped house, on Thursday March 30, from Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Mcebisi Skwatsha.
Mr Tyewu had been living in a dilapidated house in Marcus Garvey, in Philippi, and unable to afford any improvements to the house until an intervention by Mr Skwatsha.
With the help of some of his business friends, Mr Skwatsha managed to turn Mr Tyewu’s fortunes around.
And after months of hard work, the house was handed back to the pensioner – who was particularly pleased with having an indoor toilet.
“They did a good job,” he said, before adding: “But they must now get me a woman.”
His brother, Thobile Stemele, commended the community for highlighting his brother’s plight. Under the watchful eye of the ecstatic residents, Mr Skwatsha paid homage to residents for having brought Mr Tyewu’s plight to his department’s attention.
“That is when we approached people, companies, correctional Services and Nedebe Group. Today this is a matter of joy. It is joyful day for him. We had to bring his dignity. The old man has a roof over his head and a toilet inside the house,” he said.
As part of their Human Rights Month activities, said Mr Skwatsha, his department and other stakeholders strived to bring back human dignity.
He said that elderly people needed to be prioritised for housing, and he praised the past political leaders for their teachings. “We can only be thankful to the leaders of that time. All they wanted to do was for all of us to live a better life,” he said.
Mr Skwatsha also acknowledged the work done by five former inmates who had helped with the building work.
“The Department of Correctional Services availed inmates to do the work, and Nedebe Group mobilised building material for the construction to mark the completion of this undertaking and to witness the change in the quality of life of Mr Tyewu and the tenants in his property,” he said.
Provincial correctional services commissioner Delekile Klaas said, as part of their rehabilitation, offenders were taught all sorts of skills to help the community.