PAPA Penny’s former manager, Lerato Manaka (39), had started to pick up the pieces of her life after being in prison, but doors keep closing in her face.
Lerato, originally from Welkom in the Free State, entered for the Mrs Universe South Africa pageant but she had to withdraw because the pageant allegedly stopped all communication with her.
She said she was hurt that people did not give her and other ex-offender a second chance. Lerato was jailed for fraud after stealing millions from an employer.
“I withdrew from the competition because I was treated differently from other competitors after my story was aired on VIA TV on 12 January,” Lerato told Daily Sun.
“The pageant stopped communicating with me the day after the show. I felt discriminated against.”
She said she didn’t know why it cut communication with her.
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“I have been honest about my past from the beginning. I can only assume my past is the reason,” she said.
Lerato told the People’s Paper that she just wanted freedom, and not to be chained.
“I grabbed the Mrs Universe South Africa platform to help awaken the queen in me while walking away from my past,” she said.
“The pageant has contributed to my growth is so many ways.
“I am grateful to be ending the journey with awesome lessons,” she said.
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Baatseba Mamorare, the marketing and administration coordinator of the pageant, said Lerato fell out of the competition because she had not met her sponsorship target.
“The dates and sponsorship amounts are stipulated in a memorandum of understanding, which is signed by all contestants,” she said.
“This was further explained to all contestants at a workshop on 8 October 2022, which Lerato attended. It was also stipulated on the website before entries were closed.”
Baatseba said that they notified Lerato that she would be able to rejoin the competition, should she meet her sponsorship requirements.
Lerato said other ladies in the competition also didn’t reach their targets, but were still competing.
“I’m in contact with them and they told me this,” she said.
“With me, they just stopped communicating.”