By Thys Khiba
Sasolburg – The inspirational and an ex-convict, Lerato Manaka gives back to the community by using a nonprofit organization named Modiehi Mongale Foundation to assist ex female offenders to make a living by using their talents and skillsacquired during incarceration.
During her incarceration Manaka was appointed as a Vice Chairperson of the Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture and herportfolio included Arts and Culture.
According to Manaka, this is where she noticed that there’s tremendous amount of talent the offenders have and felt in love with it.
“We have 30 female beneficiaries which are doing drama, choir and authors. Due to us having a criminal record, we are unemployable. This one of the reasons why they commit crimeagain and with the Foundation we aiming to assist with career development and reduce the cycle of reoffending,” said Manaka.
Manaka and her husband were arrested for taking money out of her colleagues account and transferring it into her husband’s account. The arrest came after her manager received a tip-off email to say that Manaka was defrauding the company.
“Both my husband and I were arrested and I was only 29 when it happened. Due to the unfortunate choices I made, at the age of 29, I had to kiss my career as an accountant goodbye. The arrest took place in 2012 and we went out on bail pending trial,” said Manaka.
Sharing her story with Free State Central News, Manaka confirmed that no employer was willing to hire her becausealready she had a criminal record that says ‘pending trial.’ She ventured into business for sustainability purposes and to survive.
“The court trial took 5 years and we received our sentence in 2017, at that time I was managing the legendary Papa Penny. I was sentenced 12 years imprisonment with a suspended 4 years therefore I had to serve 8 years. By God’s grace I served 2 years and 6 months at Johannesburg Correctional Centre,” said Manaka.
In her view, Manaka said that she didn’t go to prison, rather went to a Correctional Centre to correct her mistakes. She said that the Department of Correctional Services helped her a lot in the process of correcting herself by offering rehabilitation programs.
“One lesson that stood out for me was as much as we think Fraud is a petty crime, we are wrong! It’s actually a serious crime because a lot of people were affected by my criminal activity,” said Manaka.
Born in Welkom and raised in Sasolburg, Manaka is a mother to 3 kids. She moved to the city of gold, Johannesburg, to further my studies after finishing her Grade 12.
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