Reaching out from prison

Ntombethemba Twecu, 30 wishes her grandmother Nonzwakazi, as she celebrates her 103 years birthday
Picture: Hendrick Mphande

Murderer makes amends by throwing party, fixing house for granny, 102

The lives of a convicted murderer and a 102-year-old grandmother connected yesterday – despite them having never met – when the St Albans inmate threw her a birthday party after organising for her home to be renovated.

Bonga Mountain, 35 – who is serving 25 years for murder – wanted to make amends by reaching out to the community through projects for the elderly.

To do that, he called on friends and family – Babalwa Rafane, 30, Zandile Mountain, 21, and Mzwandile Sododo – to help him identify elderly people in need.

Yesterday, Mountain’s friends arranged a birthday party for Nonzwakazi Twecu, of Walmer, after the trio – using Mountain’s funds – renovated the pensioner’s home.

While Twecu’s birthday is only next week – when she turns 103 – the group decided on a pre-party when she returned to her newly painted home.

Aside from the paint job, the friends removed a number of broken windows in the house and replaced them with aluminium window frames and new glass.

They then cleared the bushes behind the house and in the yard.

A frail-looking Twecu was flanked by her friends and family when she was handed her birthday cake yesterday.

Fungile Twecu, 63, said his mother was excited by the goodwill shown by Mountain and his friends

“They do not even know us. They are not even working but took it upon themselves to help. We are very grateful,” he said.

Fungile said for a very long time his mother had lived in deplorable conditions.

Mountain learnt pottery and the art of making wooden key-holders and beads while in prison.

When his friends or relatives visited, he would then give them items to sell.

With the little collected, he and his team identify vulnerable families with the aim of uplifting them. Mountain expressed remorse yesterday for the murder he committed during a robbery in 2006.

He said: “I did a lot of introspection while here. I asked myself what I could do better to pay back society for the wrongs I have done.

“I had a grandmother who never raised me to be a criminal, but sent me to school to be a better person.” he said.

It was because of his grandmother, Nosezile, that he had decided to help the elderly.

While in prison, he was exposed to several rehabilitation programmes which helped him to gain a better perspective about the life of crime and its impact on the wider community. “I informed the Department of Correctional Services that I wanted to change. They then provided me with [arts and craft] skills.

“The wrong things we do, not only affect us but families and the community.”

When asked if he hoped his acts of goodwill would help him in a bid for parole when the time came, Mountain said: “I do not do this for parole.

“I have been here 10 years. I will leave once the department decides it’s time. I want to fix the wrongs I have done.

“I am sorry for what I did. I pray that society will see true change in me.”

The department had not commented by the time of going to print.

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