Mofokeng and Mokoena motivate Peermont learners

30 May 2011 – The Wits Justice Project had the pleasure last week of accompanying Fusi Mofokeng and Tshokolo Mokoena while they were conducting motivational talks at schools around Gauteng. Taryn Arnott writes about the experience.

“Avoid flying with the chickens. Fly with the eagles! Wear a uniform of excellence – a uniform of orange is a uniform of shame,” – Fusi Mofokeng.

“You are the only captain of your ship – you must steer it the right way,” Tshokolo Mokoena.

Mofokeng and Mokoena were invited by the Peermont School Support Programme (PSSP) to engage with learners about their experiences leading up to and including their time in prison.

The PSSP supports initiatives that build excellence in teaching and learning at seven schools in Gauteng. Mofokeng and Mokoena visited Lethulwazi Secondary, Thuto Lesedi Secondary, Sunward Park High, General Smuts High, Unity High, and Thembisa High Schools, delivering a message of hope and faith with humility to learners.

Mofokeng and Mokoena were released on parole from Kroonstad prison on 2 April this year, after spending 19 years in custody for a crime they did not commit.

When the TRC exonerated members of an ANC SDU for killing one policeman and attempting to murder another, Mofokeng and Mokoena, who had been convicted in terms of the doctrine of “common purpose”, refused to admit guilt as they had not even been present at the time of the murder, nor had they been members of, or involved with any of the activities of, the SDU. They were convicted mainly on the evidence given by a man, now dead, who later admitted giving false testimony as a result of pressure from the security police, coupled with the promise of a pay-off.

But the two are not bitter, do not hold anyone responsible for their time in prison, and do not regret remaining honest, despite the consequences of staying in prison. “I could not admit guilt for something that I did not do,” Mofokeng told Grade 9 learners at General Smuts High School in Vereeniging.

Instead, Mofokeng and Mokoena promote hope and remaining true to self, even in the face of turmoil. They also urged learners to avoid turning to lives of crime and to shun drugs and alcohol, using their experiences of prison as a deterrent.

Audiences at the schools were fascinated by their story and had many questions for the two. Learners were touched by the amount of time the pair had spent in prison, and how Mofokeng and Mokoena managed to come out as firm, God-fearing, humble, and peaceful gentlemen. They were also affected by the strength of their friendship that remained throughout their period in prison despite them being separated on many occasions.

They were treated to a three-night stay at the Metcourt Hotel at Emperor’s Palace, as well as dinner and a show for them and their families.

Many thanks to Clifford Elk, Sarah Benjamin, Randy Moremi and the Peermont group for organising this wonderful experience both for Mofokeng and Mokoena and for the learners at the various schools. Thanks also to all the schools involved for welcoming Mofokeng and Mokoena with open arms and enthusiastic voices.

 

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

One Response to Mofokeng and Mokoena motivate Peermont learners

  1. Pingback: M&M scare kids a little ****less | tiedyoungblood

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