AS part of a drive to educate pupils on the dangers of crime and the use of drugs, ex-convict Zolile Mate, 36, of Mdantsane has shared his story of his amazing turnaround, with hundreds of pupils scholars at David Mama High School pupils in Mdantsane.
Mate who was arrested in 2012 – and sentenced to 18 years in jail, said his sentence was converted to 10 years after taking it on appeal.
“I have been in 11 prisons in this country and have faced a number of challenges while a prisoner. I want to paint a picture for you today – of how it feels like when all the things you love and all the advantages you have now are taken away, of the feeling of watching all the things you once took for granted, being taken away from you. I have also witnessed many traumatic incidences such as theft, bullying, forced sexual encounters and extremely violent fights while in prison,” he told the pupils. students.
He was speaking as part of the South African Police Services Child Protection Week. , which is an annual government initiative to raise awareness on the rights of children.
Mate urged pupils learners to avoid peer pressure and to know that life was difficult after prison.
“It all starts with the peer pressure. “That one cigarette will lead to the use of dagga and you will end up being controlled by the addiction, it is not a joke. “The addiction will control you and it will haunt you. for many many years.
“The last place you want to end up in is prison. I want young people to know that prison is a place to train you to be the hardest criminal more than it is a rehabilitation centre.
He encouraged learners to pave their own paths and focus on their dreams.
“My story is not your story. I have been given a second chance and I have managed to turn my life around. You might not be able to get the same opportunity. That dream job you have right now will merely be a dream when you cannot pursue it because you have a criminal record. My advice is to stay away from drugs, stay very far away – pave your own future and make something out of the opportunities you have been given,” said Mate.
Mdantsane Police will visit various schools in Mdantsane during the Child Protection Week campaign.