Thiara Deokaran is proof that you can triumph in adversity.
The daughter of slain whistleblower, Babita Deokaran, Thiara, matriculated from Abbots College in Johannesburg with five distinctions and an 82 percent aggregate in the 2023 exams.
Despite the trauma of losing her mother so tragically, Thiara, who turned 18 recently, has focused on her academic excellence.
She will be studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce (Informatics) degree, as she is technology driven.
Her uncle Rakesh Deokaran, said despite the loss of her mom, Thiara had been extremely resilient, emotionally strong and logical about her life going forward - like her mum would have wanted.
“As a family we have always motivated our kids to excel for themselves. There is no need to excel for anyone else. Thiara has made us all super proud with what she has achieved. Babita is definitely smiling down on her. I am sure she will not stop excelling, even after university. She is destined to go on to bigger and better things.”
He said Thiara’s fondest memory of her mum was her being a motherly figure to everyone.
“Our siblings are all younger than she was. She empowered us to come to Johannesburg and become the individuals we are today, under her guidance. I would fail if I did not talk about her delicious food. God we miss that. Anything we felt for, she made sure we got to eat it.
“Her message to all the kids was the importance of having an education.”
Rakesh said the family was proud of Thiara.
“We are also grateful to my younger sister for taking Thiara under her wing during this time.”
He said at this stage, Thiara was unsure about she planned on living in South Africa or going overseas.
"But she will make that decision after university. In the meantime, her advice to students is, irrespective of circumstances there is no reason not to succeed. Students must first want to empower themselves and then others."
Rakesh said the family continued to wait for justice.
“The hitmen did not hire themselves. So we are not yet done. The sentencing of the six accused was phase one. Phase 2 will have to come due course.”
Deokaran, 53, was the chief director of financial accounting at the Gauteng Department of Health.
She was shot outside her home in Mondeor, south of Johannesburg, in August 2021 when Thiara was in Grade 10.
At the time, she was a witness in the Special Investigations Unit’s (SIU) probe into the health department for corruption and fraud pertaining to the procurement of personal protective equipment.
Deokaran sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died in the hospital. Suspects were arrested and charged with her murder. In August last year, six men were convicted and sentenced for her killing in the South Gauteng High Court. The accused implicated three others.