Education network defends chairperson

2014-07-08 16:22
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - The Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) on Tuesday condemned comments made by a journalist about its chairperson, Lucky Thekisho.

"RW Johnson is clearly engaged in a futile campaign to try and undermine the integrity of our chairperson," HETN spokesperson Hendrick Makaneta said.

Johnson made comments about Thekisho's past criminal record when responding to an article Thekisho wrote on Politicsweb about the University of Cape Town's new admissions policy.

Johnson said Thekisho had no status in higher education.

"He works for Correctional Services. He is well qualified to do so since he himself went to jail for murder and was only released thanks to a special presidential pardon," he said.

Johnson is a British-South African journalist and historian who writes for the London Sunday Times.

Makaneta confirmed Thekisho had spent time in prison for murder.

"We would like to reiterate that the story of Thekisho is one of the miracles of black survival and resilience in South African history. Mr Thekisho has taken full responsibility for his past," he said.

Thekisho was arrested when he was a teenager after dropping out of school, Makaneta said.

While in jail he killed another inmate in a fight. He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to eight years in prison.

"When Mr Thekisho completed his sentence, he swallowed his pride and went back to a full-time classroom, entirely consisting of teenagers, notwithstanding the fact that he was 29 years old at that time and despite the embarrassing remarks made by teachers and fellow learners about him," Makaneta said.

Afterwards Thekisho got a loan from government to study at university where he obtained a law degree, a certificate in advanced labour law, a certificate in legislative drafting, a certificate in human resource management and a certificate in environment and compliance.

After completing his studies, Thekisho was admitted as an attorney.

He was granted presidential pardon while he was a student.

"Through hard work, discipline, commitment to strong values and his abiding belief in our system of government, he overcame the obstacles.

"Not a day goes by that he does not feel regret for his past and the lost opportunities during his incarceration as a teenager," Makaneta said.

- SAPA
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  education  |  media
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