KZN ex-security guard to receive third degree

2015-05-13 21:00
UNIZULU Deputy Registrar Zakhele Gumede drapes a hood over Ntombi Mathe’s shoulder during a graduation ceremony. (Supplied)

UNIZULU Deputy Registrar Zakhele Gumede drapes a hood over Ntombi Mathe’s shoulder during a graduation ceremony. (Supplied)

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Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal woman’s determination to make a better life for herself and her family saw her notching up her third qualification on Friday - the second one this week.

Ntombi Mathe ,43, went from being a cashier at a supermarket in the small town of Empangeni to being a security guard at the University of Zululand. But being a security guard was just a stepping stone for her to realising her ultimate goal of getting an education and a better life for herself. 

Now she is graduating from the same university she was entrusted to protect, with not only one but two qualifications.

And when she steps up to the podium on Friday, in the audience will be some of her fiercest supporters - son Njabulo Gumede, 23, who is also busy studying towards his second degree, sisters Nontuthuko and Lungile Mathe, local chief Somopho Bonginkosi Mthembu and fiancé Protas Gumede.

The woman from Emacekana in Empangeni said she was hired as a security guard at the university in 2007, but she was so determined to get an education that she registered to study at the university in 2008.

She obtained her first degree in 2011 and on Monday she received her Higher Diploma in Community Work. On Friday she will receive her Honours degree in Public Administration.

“After completing my matric at Qhamuka High School in 1994, I wanted to further my studies but because we were so poor I couldn't go to university,” said the mother of five.

In 1995 she accepted a temporary job standing in for a teacher at a local primary school and it was during this time that she was inspired to pursue a career in teaching.

“I was teaching at Somopho Primary School and back then we were very poor so all the money I earned went towards supporting my family. That is the main reason why I couldn't study,” she said. 

In 2001 she got another temporary job with Statistics South Africa, doing Census .

“In 2003 I got a job as a cashier at Shoprite in Empangeni and I worked there until 2005. In 2007 I accepted a job as a security guard at the University of Zululand.

“When I accepted the job I knew that I was destined to do better because I always had a desire to learn and further my education. So the following year I applied to study a Bachelor of Administration. I completed that degree in 2011 and by that time I had been transferred to the Richards Bay division,” recalled Mathe.

She said she used the R3 500 she earned as a salary to support her children and pay the rent.

“I was lucky that National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) agreed to fund my studies otherwise I wouldn't have been able to achieve my dreams.”

In 2012 she applied for her second qualification in Higher Diploma in Community Work and completed her studies in 2013.

“I used all the spare time I had during my shifts to study and attend lectures. It was tough to study but I was motivated to study and do better for my family. Sometimes I would attend classes after working the night shift. I would be very tired but because of the drive that I have I knew I had to do it.

“My dream is to build my family a home, I want to study further towards getting a doctorate and I want my children to be educated like me.”

Mathe said she would also love to be a director of a company one day.

“I think I am an example that you can achieve anything if you are determined to,” she said, adding that it was her mother’s support that got her through the tough times.

“My mother and sisters always made sure the children were taken care of when I couldn't find the time.”

Mathe has inspired her eldest son who is also a student at the university to study. “He has a BSC degree from UNIZULU and has now enrolled for a degree in computer science. I think I have inspired my children. I know they are proud of me,” said Mathe. 

Read more on:    durban  |  good news

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