'School of discipline'

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

It was in 2000 that I first met Mama Jackey Maarohanye, and she left me spellbound.

She had come to Matseliso Secondary School in Meadowlands, Soweto, where I was looking for pupils to enrol at Ithuteng Trust, a school she ran in Soweto.

The other pupils and I thought Ithuteng would provide us with supplementary lessons.

We duly enrolled for Saturday classes, but later discovered through the grapevine that it was a school for orphans and abused and disadvantaged youths.

I had enrolled for tuition in physical science, mathematics and English.

We were expected to be at the school from 8am until 4pm.

But in the months that we kept going to Ithuteng, we never received any lessons because there were no teachers. Some Ithuteng pupils were "teachers" and had no idea about the subjects they were teaching.

We did physical training for about two to three hours and would later be given a slice of bread with a teaspoon of atchar and some tasteless juice.

Mama Jackey often said: "This is a school of discipline."

The school had so many prefects. We were searched when entering the premises and they would take our lunch boxes if we brought any.

We once went to a camping site at Rietvlei near Johannesburg for five days and this included going to the movies. But we had to walk about 10km to get to the mall.

We feared raising our objections because Mama Jackey, whom many young women and I regarded as a role model, was fearsome.

Many students feared a particular youth, whose name I will withhold.

He seemed to be her bodyguard because he was always where Mama Jackey went.

I quit the school after four months and was gravely disappointed.