Moloko Manthata regrets the day she fell for the “good life”. The 31-year-old from Polokwane says the pressure to have a sugar daddy led her down the wrong path.

At the tender age of 12, she became rebellious at home. Her mother was unemployed, and her father worked far from home. She admits that her parents were caring and loving. Despite having little, they did try their best to care for her and her two siblings.

But it was not enough for her. She wanted what her friends had. Her friends had sugar daddies who provided them a life of luxury. “My friends were always bragging about the things they got from their sugar daddy and I felt stupid for not having a blesser to shower me with all the good stuff my friends had.”

The problem was, she had body issues which affected her self-esteem. “I was born chubby and that was never a problem until I was 12 years old. I suddenly had a problem with my body,” she recalls.

Mokolo, like most teenagers, was going through puberty and had body changes. “When I was 16, I had no confidence left in me. I told myself that I am ugly, and I will never be loved. I totally changed and lost all the respect for my mother,” she says. She left her parents.

This was the beginning of what she describes as the beginning of the end of the end of the life she knew. One of her friends introduced her to an older man who was going to be her sugar daddy.

“A sweet talker, he just took my hand and start showering me with praises busy touching and kissing my hand. Right there I felt like I was loved.”

The man she lost her virginity to gave her everything she wanted and attended to her every whim. He bought her a well-furnished flat and she hosted parties there. She wore expensive clothes and lived like a queen.

The money to finance all of this, however, came from selling drugs and she was the mole.

“One day I fell sick and I had a package to deliver. I knew that after every delivery I got cash to party. So, I decided to go and make the delivery and that was not my lucky day. I was busted.”

“I fainted right there when they are about to arrest me. They then took me to hospital before jail,” she says.

At the hospital, the doctor told her she wasn’t sick but pregnant and to top it all, she was HIV positive. “It felt like a part of me died. I had no one,” she says.

Moloko tried calling her sugar daddy but he denied knowing her and told her never to call again. Her friends had also abandoned her. “I was all alone and could not contact my parents. I lost my virginity to a monster just to fit in, just to please friends,” she says with regret.

She was 20 years when she was sentenced to four years in prison.

She says she got a lesser sentence because she turned state witness. “My arrest was all over the media and my parents saw it and they came. All they said to me after a long stare was "Moloko we love you".

She says life in prison was no walk in the park. She describes it as confusing but mostly hard for her. She gave birth in prison to a baby girl. But when her baby girl was old enough to leave the prison system, her parents took her in and raised her.

“My parents named her Blessing but I prefer to call her Dikeledi (tears).  I did my time and now I am free and a loving mother to my daughter,” she says.

Life was hard in prison and it’s hard outside as an ex-convict. She says she’s not been able to get a job since she became a free woman. “It’s hard to find work and I also think it’s because of my criminal record,” she says.

Many people are not friendly towards her. “I get mixed reaction as some are accepting and others don’t want anything to do with me.” But, she is holding her head high and making up for lost time with her daughter and family. “They are trying by all means to make our relationship work. But we are taking things one day at a time. With my now 12-year-old daughter, I’m making up for lost time,” she shares.