Palesa “Deejay” Manaleng, 31, a UJ student and journalist has been selected as one of the 100 Young Mandela’s of the future. Through her leadership, creativity, resilience, vision and compassion, Palesa has made incredible efforts to make a difference in the lives of others and shown persistence to achieve her dreams against all odds.
News24 in celebration of what would have been former president Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday on July 18, has honoured 100 young South Africans who embody the characteristics the icon was best known for.
” It is a an honour for me to be selected as one of 100 Young Mandela’s of the future and most importantly it provides me a platform to discuss and bring to light to issues that are close to my heart,” said Palesa.
”Things like accessibility- and I mean beyond just a ramp into a building. What I am talking about is accessibility to education for differently abled persons. We also need to have access to jobs so that we can remove differently abled persons from the grant system and help them to become independent, added Palesa ”
Palesa was seriously injured in a cycling accident in 2014 that left her paraplegic and wheelchair bound. Today, Manaleng is a journalist at eNCA, student at the University of Johannesburg, and a national athlete. Palesa is a 1st year in Public Relations and Communications, as well as an UJ SSB member.
She has represented South Africa at two para-cycling World Cups, has ranked 8th in the world for two years, and has twice been named national champion in both para-cycling and athletics. Manaleng trains five times a week, with a busy schedule that involves cycling, boxing and track. She dreams of representing South Africa at the World Championships and Paralympics.
UJ’s Prof Lizelle Ann Piater who nominated Palesa said, “She has achieved a number of sporting feats while at UJ – and even participated in a cycling race a while ago to raise awareness for differently abled people. We are a University that encompasses all people, so I believe that it is a great opportunity for UJ to acknowledge differently abled people as well. I nominated Palesa for her resilience and for what she has done in her life and career.”
The all-rounder in sports has also played hockey, soccer, tennis, weight lifted, ran 10km races, rowed and swam at various times in her life.
When she couldn’t find funding for her track chair, she went through the companies on the JSE list and contacted them for a sponsorship. While most either didn’t respond or said it wasn’t in their budget, SA Breweries agreed to pay for her chair.
In May, she participated in the OCAL2018 Journey for Change, a non-stop 24-hour, 10-day journey from Pretoria to Cape Town to raise awareness around disability and funds for children with special education needs.