Sheila Leburu. Picture: ZANDISILE LUPHAHLA
They have both worked for 34 years as prison officers for the Department of Correctional Services. And now retired Anna Potgieter and Sheila Leburu will continue to share a common destiny as dedicated servants of their church’s women’s spiritual association.
Ma-Potgieter and Ma-Leburu, as they are affectionately known, will say goodbye to their colleagues at the Tswelopele Correctional Centre tomorrow.
They both joined the service in 1976 and last weekend they were honoured by management and colleagues at a gala dinner in Kimberley’s city hall.
Leburu told the audience that when she and Potgieter were discussing their future after retirement, they had realised that one thing in common they had was to serve the Lord.
“I never had a chance to do that in all my life as a prison official. I will now have plenty of time on my hands and become an active member of the church’s devotional group,” she said.
Leburu said her first week after retirement would be dedicated to “me time”.
“I never enjoyed my time as an individual, as I was always dedicating it to my family and prisoners. I don’t regret it, though, as it was for a good cause.
“In terms of my job, it was interesting to see the life of a prisoner being transformed through rehabilitation, most of them ended up being like my kids or siblings,” she said, adding that she would miss her job.
Apart from church work, Leburu said she would also help out at her local crèche, mainly by singing for the little ones.
Potgieter said she began her decades-long career in her early 20s.
“It was a gift from God. I enjoyed this job very much and my heart will remain behind after retirement,” said Potgieter.
She plans to be a Sunday school teacher as she is “a spiritual person serving God”.
The head of the prison, Hendrick Johannes, said: “Knowing both of them since I joined the centre three years ago has been amazing. They are dedicated people and we will miss them.”
Tswelopele Correctional Centre is one of South Africa’s maximum security prisons.