Eskom security guard's long ride to law degree

Cape Town – Anybody who has travelled between Khayelitsha and Koeberg in Cape Town will know that the 60km journey is long and mind-numbing.

But for Eskom security guard Daluxolo Batyi, it was the perfect opportunity to squeeze in a few more pages of reading towards the law degree he so coveted.

After the long commute to his eight-hour job, helping to keep the nuclear power plant on the Cape West Coast secure, he also had to be a daddy to his three young children and spend some quality time with his wife Bulelwa.

''The children would say, 'Daddy come and play with us', but I would have to study. Sometimes it felt like a war zone,'' he said, laughing.

Money was tight. So tight that he once walked 21km from Khayelitsha to Parow to write an exam because there was nothing left for transport.

Emotional

But Batyi finally has a Bachelor of Law degree to hold up high.

He becomes emotional when he shows News24 his degree and turns away for a few seconds before the photographs are taken.

Batyi says that from a young age in his hometown of Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, he wanted to be able to help people with the injustices that made their lives difficult.

He tried going to the University of Fort Hare on a part-time basis but battled getting there and back. 

He left East London in 2007, hoping to go to the University of the Western Cape, but that did not pan out either.

In 2010 he lost his father Phumzile and wanted to help supplement the gap in income that his mother Gladys was left to fill.

He put his dreams of going to law school on hold and became a policeman, drawn to the job because of its closeness to law, and for the pay cheque that would put food on the table for the family.

But as a policeman he felt there was no space for his own personal development.

''I wanted to be in an environment that was motivating and supportive. I was combating crime, but my dreams of becoming a lawyer were being delayed,'' he said.

Small things like getting study leave was difficult while in the police.

''It was a tough job. There was no recognition, and no prospect of recognition.''

Skills development

He started researching companies who supported employees' studies, and kept an eye out for vacancies at those companies.

Eskom was one.

He spotted an advertisement for a security guard at its Koeberg plant near Atlantis and, having discovered the company supported skills improvement, he applied.

He got the job and closed the door on his police career.

The company sponsored his studies and supported him where it could.

Day in and day out he made the long trip from one end of Cape Town to the other, reading whenever he could.

He and his work friends would carpool sometimes to save costs and they were amazed by his determination.

''They would say, 'How can you read when the car is moving?', but for me, it was a chance to read two more pages,'' he said.

Inspiration

He finally graduated in October and remembers the speech delivered at his graduation ceremony, held at His People Church at N1 City in Cape Town.

''The professor asked us to look into the audience at all the families there.

"'They have suffered a lot. They have deprived themselves for you','' he remembers the professor saying.

''That really shook me,'' he said. 

''In my family no one has graduated before. My father completed his matric when he was working. He always told me that I must not become a person who lies around the house all day. He was very strict.''

Inspired by what he had done, two of his siblings have since decided to further their studies.

While Batyi still works as a security guard at Eskom, he plans to receive practical legal training at the University of Cape Town.

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