Mokonyane missing in action?

Letter from a concerned resident
At least one resident of Kagiso, the township where the sons of Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane live, says the Mail & Guardian‘s recent report on Retlabusa Mokonyane wasn’t a surprise to anyone in the neighbourhood

  • Response from the Office of the Premier

    The Tswana proverb, Tshukudu kwa gobe, e wetswa ke namane, (“the calf always gets the rhinoceros into trouble”), aptly describes the situation of Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and her two sons, Africa (29) and Retlabusa (23).

    Mokonyane, who has earned the tag of “Comrade Action” from her supporters because of her no-nonsense management style and renowned knack for getting things done her way, is seemingly failing to implement similar action where it matters most—at home.

    Recent media reports about Mokonyane’s son, Retlabusa’s involvement in car theft and the recent explosion of a stolen vehicle on Sebenzisa Drive in Kagiso on the West Rand are sure signs that the chickens have finally come home to roost for the troubled premier and her family. Mokonyane is a true product of Kagiso and many of her family and relatives still live in the township.

    Many of the recent media reports, including the Mail & Guardian‘s story (”Premier’s son linked to fire”, July 23 to 29) and many other allegations levelled against Retlabusa, did not come as a surprise to many of the residents of Kagiso.

    Thuggish behaviour and ill-discipline among the Mokonyane juniors is a known fact throughout the township.
    For a while now, Africa and Retlabusa have been synonymous with rebellion and ill-discipline and are believed generally to escape legal action through their mother’s political influence.

    Mokonyane’s elder son, Africa, and his delinquent ways, ultimately got him into trouble with his businessman stepfather, forcing him out of their Noordheuwel house, north of Krugersdorp. He lives with relatives in Kagiso.

    In a packed Kagiso 1 Community Hall late last year, a distraught and emotional Mokonyane joined the community in grief over the death of yet another gang motorcyclist who died in a freak accident while riding under the influence of alcohol.

    Towards the end of last year attending the funeral services of notorious bikers became a weekend social event.

    The last straw was when a biker’s body was flung across the road and cut to pieces at an “After Tears” party for another biker, who had died a week earlier.

    Mokonyane’s rant reminded me of Wilfred Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth, which rang furiously inside my head.

    But, unlike Owen’s youths, who perished needlessly on the battlefield, our youths are dying recklessly in fatal motorcycle accidents, while under the influence of alcohol and who knows what and a blind desire to be the kings of township cool.

    Mokonyane spoke against the youths’ recklessness, desire to show off and irresponsibility. She called on youngsters to act against alcohol, drug abuse and riding drunk.

    “As a parent,” she said, “I know what all the mothers are going through. I am a mother and I too have to deal with problematic children every day.”

    Though Mokonyane made her confession about the problem of dealing with problematic children in public, she was cautious not to hang out all her family’s dirty linen.

    To demonstrate her concern about the bike-accident situation, Mokonyane even organised a special cheer-up meeting with the mothers of the deceased bikers following that particular series of fatalities.

    But Mokonyane, like any parent out there, does not have around-the-clock camera surveillance of her sons’ unimpressive lifestyles.

    It is a fact that no matter how disciplined a parent is and no matter how much they discipline their children, there is no guarantee they will turn out as they desire.

    However, in spite of her political power, clout and resilience, Mokonyane has never found herself in a trickier situation than the current one. It is a situation which she doesn’t have any control over and has left it for too long to do anything about.

    It is the same situation that has spiralled into a barrage of damaging media reports, exposing her weakest point—her family.

    *The writer asked that his name be withheld

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