Mokoena Draws Inspiration from His Street Vendor Mother 

By Staff Writer
BOKGAGA– Having been raised by a single mother who worked as a care worker at Suid-Afrikaanse Vroue Vederasie in Modjadjiskloof and also doubled as a street vendor, Dimakatso David Mokwena (34) sees himself deeply rooted in traditional values and reveres all street vendors who work hard to put their children through school and institutions of higher learning while also putting food on the table.
He currently works at the South African Police Service (SAPS) Headquarters in Pretoria where he is employed to provide the organisation with media monitoring and analysis. He manages a team of approximately ten members. He holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Stellenbosch.
Although he insists, he is a village boy through and through, Dimakatso says he has come a long from being a shy and timid 17-year-old that he was when he left his village of Bokgaga Ga-Maake (some 30 kilometers outside Tzaneen) in January 2003 to now-public sector manager who is able to lead a diverse team.
He however does credit the village of Bokgaga for shaping him to being the man that he is today, especially in the “big bad world” out there. His mother, Sebokwe Elizabeth Matlala, has done a commendable job of raising him and his other six siblings with the little money she earned.
He says of his mother: “I have the utmost respect for my mom who despite financial constraints that she faced all her life, she managed to put me through university, I respect all the street vendors we see in villages, small towns, and big cities because they play a meaningful role in the economy are able yo provide for their families with the little that they earn.” He adds:
“Having experienced how it’s like to be a street vendor because during my high school and varsity years, I would go give my mother a break during school holidays so she can go home to rest while I held the fort at her market downtown Modjadjiskloof.”
Dimakatso started assisting his mother on her business while he was only 11 years old. “Back then, sleeping at a taxi rank in Modjadjiskloof was still safe and pretty normal for me.
I did not see any poverty in it is only now in retrospect that I see mom’s enterprising activities was for the purpose of keeping poverty at bay,” he reminisces. e
Dimakatso says, since his work makes him travel across the country now and then, he always makes it a point to support local business in the informal economy because he knows first-hand that street vendors need the money more than an established chain supermarkets do. Even in his village, whenever he is back home, he would be seen at his local village at Bokgaga Road buying grilled chicken or getting his chiskop done there.
“It’s the least I can do to show my support, rather than going to a major chicken store to buy my chicken there,” he says.
He says he plans to return to the University of Stellenbosch in 2021 to register for Ph.D. in Journalism.
When it comes to his career, Dimakatso says he would like to transition from being a public servant into academia where he would like to work with young minds to help them realise their potential in ways that matter.
Dimakatso says he would like to live an impactful life that will have a lasting legacy that will outlive him.
“If I can assist one person realise their potential and that person goes out in the world and do well for themselves because I have some small role in their success, then, for me, I would say I have fulfilled my life purpose. I am all about impacting lives the best way I know-how.
Be it inspiring people to focus their energies in academia than frivolous things, and to motivate them to lead a healthy lifestyle. If I can do that, then, I am happy.

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