Humble beginnings as messenger at a local law firm to becoming the first female Sheriff of Polokwane in 2012 and her recent appointment by Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha as member of the South African Board for Sheriffs are all true testimony to Annah Ralehlaka’s determination to pursue her dream in the legal profession.
Seshego born and raised, Ralehlaka said her passion for the legal profession started when she was a teenager at Masedibu High School in Seshego’s Zone 2 many years ago. Even at that young age she was already fascinated by the legal field and the whole judicial system and all she wanted was to contribute to the fraternity, she recalled.
After matriculating in 1997 she enrolled for a senior secretarial course at a college in Gauteng.
While still a messenger she was noticed for her potential and promoted to senior typist and later head of department responsible for collections and civil matters. That is also where she learnt how to translate legal documents from Afrikaans to English.
Her determination propelled her to obtain a diploma in Business Management as well as certificates in Labour Relations and Frontline Skills Training.
Ralehlaka said being promoted from one position to another in a short space of time was to her a sign of good things to come. “Having been promoted every year was encouraging and made me to work even harder. I fell pregnant when I was in standard seven. I was very young but I did not give up on my dreams. I remember going on long maternity leave, returning to school and completing my studies,” she said.
She hopes the progress she has made in her career will encourage and motivate people not to give up on their dreams. “No one is too old to learn and study. My message to young people and anyone who wanted to further their studies but could, due to various circumstances, not do so is to go back to school and study. The future is in our hands and we can make it in life if we are focused and determined,” Ralehlaka said.
As Polokwane Sherriff her office is responsible for serving court processes like summonses and subpoenas. She also plays an important role in the execution of court orders such as the attachment of immovable and movable property, evictions and demolitions.
She explained that being Sheriff of both the Lower and High Court of Polokwane would mean more responsibility and a bigger work load, a challenge that she is ready for.
Asked how she was going to deal with individuals who are hostile towards the sheriff of the court Ralehlaka said she would at all times execute her job without fear of favour. “I am aware of the challenges ahead and some people will be hostile but they must not shoot the messenger, “Ralehlaka said.
She further stated that she will take time from her busy schedule to create more awareness about the role of a sheriff. “Most people think sheriffs have a personal vendetta against the perpetrators. I usually take time out to explain my role to members of the community and above everything else I respect their basic human rights and their dignity,” Ralehlaka stressed.
As a staunch member of the Roman Catholic Church and member of Regina Pacis in Seshego she enjoys spending her spare time with her fellow congregants as they visit the eldery and hand non-perishable food to indigent families in Seshego and surrounds.
She says she could not have been where she is today if it was not for her willpower and her resolve to succeed in life. “It was not an easy journey. Even after many unsuccessful job interviews at public and private institutions I never gave up on my dream.”
In conclusion she thanked her family, especially her children Lebogang, Phillip, Jo-Anne and her husband John Ralehlaka for their continuous support.
Story & photo: Herbert Rachuene