Godfrey Monene holds images of his father, Warrant Officer Hendrik Tsietsi Monene, who was killed in August 2012, one of the first victims of the Marikana tragedy.
Johannesburg - Revenge doesn’t solve anything. It’s not going to bring your father back. For months, Godfrey Monene struggled to understand this.

His father, Warrant Officer Hendrik Tsietsi Monene, was one of the first victims of the upheaval in Marikana, Rustenburg, in August 2012.

His death nearly destroyed him, but Godfrey pursued his father’s dream of education. Earlier this year he graduated with 10 distinctions from Rosebank College, achieving a national diploma in journalism.

For Godfrey, the devastating news arrived on August 13, of that year, when the then 19-year-old saw the first news reports emerging about officers killed by angry miners.

A friend had called telling him how awful it was and he immediately turned on his TV.

His father was deployed to the area as part of a special riot unit to try to calm tensions, but the anger of the resident mineworkers had escalated beyond expectations.

When Godfrey’s mother saw the news, she immediately told him he was not allowed to watch the reports - or any TV - until she knew what was going on.

He remembers watching his distressed mother and aunt leave their home, and when the coast was clear, trying to call his father’s cellphone. No answer.

He tried to call his father’s colleague in the service. The same. But when his mother returned in tears, he immediately understood that his father was dead.

“It was devastating. It was heartbreaking. I think she didn’t want to tell me (at first) because of how close (me and my father) were He always used to tell us not to worry about him.”

Godfrey Monene, 24, will pay tribute to his father, Hendrik, on the anniversary of the massacre.

The next few weeks were a blur of sadness and rage. The once calm young man was causing fights in his community, but also becoming more withdrawn.

As his mother’s anxiety about his mental state grew - she believed he was suicidal - the police helped find a psychiatrist to counsel him.

He remembers telling his doctor how he wanted to become a police officer, to find the men responsible for his father’s death and get revenge.

“My psychiatrist told me revenge was just going to waste my time and drag me down I realised that becoming a police officer should be about helping my community, not getting revenge,” Godfrey recalls.

Over the six months of therapy, he learnt to open up about his emotions surrounding his father’s death, but it also allowed him to figure out how best to take his life forward.

“My father always told me education was key I had been drifting away from the path he paved for me. So I wanted to complete my studies."

With the support of the SA Police Service Education Trust (Sapset) could further his studies.

Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale, the national police spokeswoman, said the Sapset was established in 2010 and its mandate was to look after the educational interests of the children of deceased members of the police when the applicable criteria are met.

“The vision of the trust is to provide the best education and training for the development of children of employees of the SAPS who died in the line of duty. The Sapset stepped in to ensure that this vision was kept alive and that children of deceased employees were looked after, not only financially, but also through emotional support.”

Now that Godfrey has graduated he wants to keep studying.

While he has a strong interest in journalism, he also wants to pursue studies in psychology.

“My dad was a helper. He always wanted to help people. I want to do the same.”

To other families who have experienced similar tragedies, Godfrey offers: “Never give up on life. I wanted to commit suicide, but one death in the family was enough.

"Life does go on.

"You can face any challenges My message is to always study. Always be prepared and never refuse help.”

With the fifth anniversary of the Marikana massacre coming up in August, Godfrey has been asked to make a speech about his experiences over the past few years, to help inspire other grieving families.

Saturday Star