Capitec employees, in partnership with 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela, pledge their time to hand-make blankets at a living museum that tells the story of South Africa’s journey to democracy.

At an event held at the Women’s Jail Museum at the iconic Constitution Hill, Capitec’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) team held a crochet-a-thon aimed at encouraging volunteering and celebrating Capitec employees who selflessly give their time to better our communities.

Capitec employees from across the country have again pledged their time to hand-make warm blankets as part of Capitec’s Hooked on Helping initiative.

“This was an initiative started by one of our employees that spread to others that crochet – or have since learned to crochet – in Capitec. As a business, we wanted to get involved with communities that we work in while also providing our employees with an avenue to get involved with the communities that they live in. This is a wonderful initiative to be a part of because crocheting is a very unique activity in that people really invest themselves in the activity. And when they say ‘we give with love,’ that’s exactly what crocheting does,” shares Pambili Booi, Capitec Operations Manager in Gauteng, when explaining why the bank feels it is so important to support a project like this one.

The day was hosted in partnership with 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela, and the Women’s Jail Museum was chosen as the venue for the occasion to highlight South Africa’s cultural heritage.  

“The aim of the day was to honour the Gauteng region. We have over 130 volunteers who have embraced the Hooked on Helping project, and today we are thanking them for what they have done,” shares Ellen-Ann Finnemore, CSI Co-ordinator at Capitec.

Bridget van Oerle, Communications Manager for 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela, said this about the motivation behind the non-profit organisation (NPO). “Part of what we do at 67 Blankets, and what Capitec is doing as well, is about knitting lives together. It’s about knitting our country together again.”

The Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill holds great significance in the fight for South African democracy. In 1958, more than 2 000 women protesting against the pass laws were imprisoned and later in 1960, during the State of Emergency, many more were arrested and sent there. These are just two instances from the jail’s turbulent 73-year history.

Bridget van Oerle, Communications Manager for 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela

Capitec’s Head of CSI, Neptal Khoza, provides further context to the importance of this location for the event. “This place signifies what women of South Africa have done for us to enjoy the freedom that we are experiencing today.”

He adds, “It also speaks to the freedom of expression. For us, it’s how our own people, our employees, can express themselves through volunteering, and express themselves by crocheting blankets. We are really encouraging our employees and creating this awareness that giving is good – not only for the receiver but for the giver as well.”

Mmagauta Molefe, a former prisoner at the Women’s Jail, was invited to be the guest speaker at the event, and the Outreach Foundation provided the entertainment on marimba.

The Outreach Foundation, an NPO based in the heart of Hillbrow, assists vulnerable and migrant communities. They also work with schools in the inner city of Johannesburg where they offer learner support and life skills programmes. 

Capitec chose the organisation as the recipient of the blankets due to the support they provide to the community.

“These blankets will go out into these communities. We’re going into winter, so I think people will be warm and will be held by these blankets,” says Gerard Bester, Programme Manager for the Outreach Foundation.

True to the statement that giving is better than receiving, Goodness Rasekgotoma, Regional Manager at Capitec and Hooked on Helping volunteer, shares what value she has found in being part of the initiative.

“I started crocheting last year and the reason for that was that I had just had a miscarriage. It took a huge toll on my life because it wasn’t the first miscarriage that I’ve had. So I started crocheting for therapy. I then started teaching the team members in my area who were, in turn, able to use their time to touch the lives of others… Putting their time out there and volunteering so that they can help someone and keep them warm in winter with a blanket,” says Goodness. 

Neptal Khoza summed up the initiative and focus for the day.

“It’s really to challenge everyone to say ‘you’ve got power within you.’ It starts with an individual. Any person can make a change that will alter the course of this country, and you have that power. If it’s not the resources, it’s the time that you can use to better the life of the next person.” 

You too can contribute towards making beautiful blankets that will keep someone warm this winter. Join the Hooked on Helping family by donating wool the next time you visit a Capitec branch. Balls of wool, knitted squares or blankets can be left in the boxes placed in each branch. All contributions will be allocated to the Hooked on Helping volunteers and 67 Blankets for Mandela who have, for this year, embarked on crocheting blankets for vulnerable children and abused women.