Soldiers renovate Mthatha school on Madiba day

2010-07-19 00:00

MEMBERS of the Mthatha-based 14th SA Infantry Battalion in the Eastern Cape yesterday celebrated International Nelson Mandela Day by painting dormitories and renovating the local Efata School for the deaf and blind.

The programme was initiated by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and soldiers under the command of Major Rinus Wolmarans.

Soldiers, local amakhosi and department officials got dirty as they scraped the walls and painted the ageing dormitories at the 52-year-old institution.

Lieutenant Minah Mavuso said they felt honoured to put their guns aside and take up paintbrushes in honour of Mandela.

“What makes this even more significant is the fact that we are helping disadvantaged and physically challenged children who are the most vulnerable people in our society. We hope that our small contribution will help change the lives of these children,’’ Mavuso said.

Work required to complete the renovation could not be done in one day, but Sisulu promised through her spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya that the soldiers will complete the work even when Mandela Day has passed.

Sisulu and the department also donated blankets, television sets and heaters to the school.

Efata principal Noxolo Rasmeni said the blankets and heaters could have not have come at a better time, as the Mthatha area is very cold in winter.

“Due to an unavailability of funds, this school was last painted about 10 years ago. As we are speaking, walls are peeling and some other dormitories are falling apart. We are so grateful that Minister Sisulu and her department remembered us on this day,’’ said Rasmeni.

Among the guests at the event were Queen Nobuntu Dalindyebo, Inkosi Bhovulengwe Mtirara, who is married to Zulu Princess Nandi, and Inkosi Gobizizwe Makamba.

Children from Efata entertained the guests with music, poetry and traditional dances.

As this function was going on, not far away at Mvezo, Mandela’s birthplace, another function attended by President Jacob Zuma and other ministers was being held in honour of Mandela’s birthday.

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