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Once hailed as a saviour of children, Maarohanye's image lies in tatters

By unknown | Nov 14, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Andrew Molefe

Andrew Molefe

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

For Jackey Maarohanye, kidnapper and notorious hell-raiser, that old adage has come to pass.

Inside the Protea magistrate's court in Soweto on Monday, her world came crumbling down when magistrate David Mhango found her guilty on two counts of kidnapping.

All that awaits the woman once dubbed the Angel of Soweto is sentencing.

This will be the culmination of a reign of terror that this woman, once the darling of the international community and global icons such as Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey, visited on a community that once saw her as a saviour.

Her fall from grace has been spectacular.

But so were her lucky breaks from the clutches of the law.

This year alone, she faced two charges: kidnapping and assault of Sowetan journalist, Vusi Ndlovu, and another of public violence and damage to property.

Both cases where thrown out of court.

Minutes after Ndlovu's case was dismissed, Maarohanye changed from her designer suit and jumped into her trademark camouflage, complete with a matching cap.

It was vintage Jackey. Scores of her students had turned up, surrounding their heroine's sedan car, singing, dancing and ululating.

It is children like these from her Ithuteng Educational Trust in Soweto that brought Maarohanye from obscurity and helped thrust her into the spotlight.

It all started in 1999 when she charmed her way into Nelson Mandela's compassion for the destitute children of South Africa.

The elder statesman used his power of persuasion and galvanised help for the establishment of Ithuteng.

The stories Jackey's "children" told Mandela and the likes of Winfrey and Chris Tucker were tear-jerkers.

They were stories of the walking dead, people who died before they were even born.

In 2001, Jackey told a UN press conference: "South Africa is a beautiful country, but it has a lot of wounded children."

To support her cause, she has always paraded these "wounded" children.

The stories they tell are of incest, rape, murder and abuse.

But years later, her reputation lay in tatters.

Carte Blanche cast her in a bad light in an investigative report. The angel's image dissolved was recast as a manipulative bully, a liar and a criminal.

The interviewer put it to her that some of her former pupils had confessed to being coached by Jackey to lie about their alleged abuses so that the money would keep rolling in from the sympathetic global community.

So convincing was she that many wondered why Maarohanye was not making a killing writing movie scripts for Hollywood.

Attired in a traditional African gear and playing the part perfectly, one student, a Banda, told a tearful press conference that she was just seven years old when her parents were killed in a massacre "right before my eyes".

Her mother had apparently been cooking when she was shot eight times, and her body fell into a boiling pot.

"My father was used like a shooting range board; so many bullets pelted into it. Later I was adopted by a woman neighbour, who used me and my little sister as sex slaves." Sad tale?

Maarohanye assured the UN that she had "transformed" 2500 youngsters who were "very hardened children" who had been written off by both the educational system and society as a "lost generation". Pure theatre, the performance was.

As for a 100percent pass rate for the last seven years, about a dozen Ithuteng students during the period in question who wrote matric said they had failed.

As Jackey Maarohanye's carefully constructed public persona started showing cracks, it is the children and people whose trust she had gained and charmed into opening up their wallets that she betrayed the most.

After Carte Blanche's damning expose on Jackey last year, and with the verdict on her kidnapping charges out, everything points to one thing: the Goddess of Mercy has feet of clay.


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