Erick Bheki Dhlamini
I started my schooling in 1986 at Tsatselani Primary School, in Ermelo. I moved to Vulincondo Higher Primary in 1990. I completed Standard 5 (Grade 7) at Msebe Primary School and then attended Lindile Secondary School before moving to Tsakane to Tholulwazi Secondary School in Tsakane for Grade 10..
I then dropped out of school because of my bad attitude towards my teachers until I was chased out of school.
My life after school
I started smoking glue, Benzene, dagga, mandrax and Wunga (Nyoape). That’s when the criminal activities started because I wanted to feed my addiction.
I was doing house break-ins, robberies and car theft. I was arrested a few times and started going in and out of prison. I was shot by the at the scene of crime and was arrested for armed robbery in 2001. I was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2004. I was sent to Barberton Maximum Prison.
It was in prison that my journey of rehabilitation started. I looked at my educational background and decided to go back to school inside the correctional centre. I started from scratch going back to school I registered at ABET Level 1. It was at Level 4 that I got my General Certificate from Umalusi from the Department of Education.
I also received my Senior Certificate from Umalusi and registered at the University of South Africa (Unisa) for a Diploma in Entrepreneurship – while still in prison.
There was other skills that I manage to do inside the correctional centre like computer skills, furniture making, upholstery and life skills.
My life after prison
I served nine years of my sentence and received parole in 2013. This is when my community service started.
I worked 247 hours community service as a general worker at Mzinti Clinic. Then I joined Qedusizi Drop in Centre as an Assistant Manager for 14 months.This was a volunteer position.
I was also a Manager of American volunteers for the Peace Corp from America for 12 Months, at the,Masisukumeni Woman Crisis Centre for 8 Months, an Advocacy Officer, Farm Manager at Mawewe CPA for six months, and Chief Supervisor of 142 participants at the Mpumalanga Tourism And Park Agency.
I am the founder and project manager of Mzinti Men’s Forum and Mzinti Youth Centre, where we have sewing and gardening.
I am also involved with most of the schools in Nkomazi, in addressing the problems of drug and substance abuse, bullying and peer pressure working with the Department of Correctional Service, Social Development, Nkomazi Municipality and South African Police Service.
I also work as a personal assistant to the head of the Mzinti Traditional Council.