Westville prisoners spend time with moms for Mother's Day

2016-05-07 20:00
Abongile Daniel and his mother, Bulelwa. (Supplied by Thulani Mdluli)

Abongile Daniel and his mother, Bulelwa. (Supplied by Thulani Mdluli)

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Durban - Abongile Daniel dreams of one day making his mother proud to thank her for standing by him as he serves a five-year sentence at the Westville Correctional Facility.

The 20-year-old was among the inmates who spent a few hours with their mothers and other maternal figures at the Durban prison on Saturday in a bid to repair broken bonds while behind bars.

Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Thulani Mdluli said the aim of the programme was to repair and reinforce relationships between mothers and their sons, who are often disowned when they are imprisoned.

"There are also many who have been rejected who need guidance and interaction from a maternal figure, especially considering that many are imprisoned for rape or other crimes against women," he said.

Bulelwa Daniel travelled for four hours from the Eastern Cape to visit her son.

"I am so happy to see him. He looks so well," she told News24.

Finding ways to make things right

Abongile was imprisoned after he killed a man in a bar fight a few years ago.

"What happened changed my life. Not for the worse, but for the better," he said.

"God had a plan for me. I have been spending my time here making peace with what I did and thinking of ways to move forward. My life doesn't end here. I am finding ways to make things right."

Abongile is an active participant in rehabilitation programmes at the prison and says he finds them enriching.

He recently passed Matric and qualified for access to Bachelor degree studies, which Bulelwa describes as one of her son's biggest achievements.

‘She is my pillar of strength’

Abongile said he hoped to honour his mother by going to university once he is released and eventually work with other inmates as a facilitator.

"She went through a lot with me. I did wrong, but my mom never stopped supporting me during my trial and also now that I am behind bars. She is my pillar of strength.

"I want to show her how much I value her. And there is no better way than to make her proud of me by becoming someone better." 

Bulelwa drives to KwaZulu-Natal twice a month to spend an hour with her son.

"I am always happy to be with him. He is working hard to make something of himself," she said.

Bulelwa worries about how Abongile will be received in their community once he is released, but believes that standing by him will encourage him to make better choices.

'I don't want to disappoint her'

Abongile said his mother's support was invaluable.

"I will do everything to not disappoint her again. I am using this as an opportunity to turn things around. I can't turn back the hands of time and undo what was done, but I can learn from it."

Mdluli said in addition to the prisoners' mothers, other local women were also identified to be invited to interact with the inmates.

"It is hoped to encourage them to get to know and 'adopt' [prisoners], especially one of the juvenile boys, who may not have the support of their families.

"There is a difference between a maternal and paternal influence. Having a positive female role model for guidance can hopefully improve the offender's decisions and avoid recidivism."

Read more on:    durban  |  mother's day  |  good news

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