Furze Platt teacher detained in Mandela's prison shares stories with pupils

Furze Platt teacher detained in Mandela's prison shares stories with pupils

Reporter:

Lucy Golding

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Furze Platt teacher detained in Mandela's prison shares stories with pupils

The death of Nelson Mandela has inspired a maths teacher unjustly imprisoned at the same time and place as the leader to share his experience with hundreds of pupils.

Students across all year-groups at Furze Platt Senior School in Maidenhead have been transfixed by Jerome Langenhoven's assemblies this week, who was detained as a young teacher for singing the national anthem.

This is the first time the South African father-of-two has discussed his past with pupils at the school in Furze Platt Road and he says he is 'humbled, privilege and honoured' to do so in the week of Mandela's passing.

In 1989 Jerome, who is now 49, was imprisoned along with two teachers from the school where he worked in Stellenbosch, South Africa, for singing Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika, meaning God Bless Africa in assembly.

At that time of the Apartheid the anthem was thought to support the freedom movement.

Jerome and his colleagues were considered a threat to national security and, without a court hearing, sent to Victor Verster prison where they remained for 20 days, at the same time Mandela was serving the latter part of his sentence.

Jerome, who lives in High Wycombe with his wife Josephine and two children, never met the man inside but said the experience has had a profound effect on him.

"In a way it makes me proud that it happened," said Jerome, a devout Christian who found courage by looking at the insignificance of 20 days captivity compared to Mandela's 27 years.

"It made me more determined to fight for equality."

Following his release Jerome, who was never given a criminal record, joined The Defiance Campaign, a movement where black men and women risked their lives to oppose segregation laws.

Jerome joined the crowd of thousands when Mandela was released from prison in 1990.

Jerome has been overwhelmed by the response from the students to his assemblies.

He said: "Mandela is unrivalled by anyone in this world."

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