'I pushed and finally made it': Security guard worked nights at university, sat in class by day for degree

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Victor Thambe at his graduation ceremony.
Victor Thambe at his graduation ceremony.
Victor Thambe
  • A North West man who worked as a security officer while studying has graduated with degree.
  • Victor Thambe worked at night and attended class during the day.
  • He now works as a teacher at a small primary school in Dinokana village, where he teaches Grades R and 1.

"It's never too late to determine your success and change your life."

So says Victor Thambe, who graduated from North West University this month, a decade after completing matric in 2014.

He obtained his Bachelor of Education degree on Monday.

The 29-year-old Thambe, who hails from the small village of Swartkopfontein in Zeerust, always dreamed of working in the information technology industry someday.

After leaving school, he worked as a general worker and security officer before enrolling for a Bachelor of Education Foundation Phase. 

But it wasn't all smooth sailing, said Thambe, as he recalled his journey to enrollment.

"There came a time when I told myself that I needed to do better. I laid out the three options that would make me successful."

Letting out a laugh, Thambe continued to list his options.

"It was either I cheat life and do illegal things, I own a business, and the third option was to go to school. Which is the option I chose because it was possible to see through," he said. 

victor Thambe at a grape farm
Victor Thambe at the grape farm where he previously worked.
Supplied victor thambe

Thambe worked as a general worker at a grape farm in 2014.

"While at the farm, I saved up money to pay for my fees at the security college I had enrolled at. I completed my Grade E, D and C between 2015 and 2016."

He then worked as a security officer for a courier company in Zeerust.

"I was earning R2 500 per month, and I used that salary to upgrade my qualifications. I did a Grade B security course, got a driver's licence, a firearm and a CIT certificate," he said.

ALSO READ | Women lead UFH 2023 May Graduation

Thambe's security qualifications later landed him a job in 2016 with the Fidelity Security company as an armed guard at a cash-and-carry supermarket and security officer at the North West University's Mafikeng campus.

He said that when he was a security officer at the university, he realised there were opportunities to get an education for free, which prompted him to apply.

"I applied for NSFAS and Funza Lushaka bursary schemes in 2019, and they both admitted me because I have good marks and applied on time."

victor thambe
Victor Thambe
Supplied victor thambe
Victor Thambe at his graduation ceremony with his
Victor Thambe at his graduation ceremony with his father.
Supplied victor thambe
Victor Thambe's parents.
Victor Thambe's parents.
Supplied victor thambe
Victor Thambe with his colleagues.
Victor Thambe with his colleagues.
Supplied victor thambe

However, because he was a security officer when he applied for his studies and couldn't leave his job because he had a child to support, Thambe asked management to give him night shifts so he could attend his classes in the afternoon.

"The new security company deployed at the university was the Mi7 national group. I asked the company's management to give me night shifts only so that I could attend my classes during the day. After hassles, they eventually agreed, and I could attend classes in the day and work in the evening."

Thambe said working and studying at the same time was not easy, but he persevered and made it.

"I would attend classes in the morning and go to work in the evening. As security officers, we are not allowed to sleep at night, so often at times, I'd use that time to complete my readings and assignments.

victor Thambe on duty as a s security guard.
Victor Thambe on duty as a s security guard.
Supplied victor thambe
victor thambe
Victor Thambe
Supplied victor thambe

"It was not easy. I didn't want to disappoint people who believed in me. I had to do it because I wanted to be successful, I hate failing, so I pushed and finally made it."

Seeing the joy on his family members' faces during his graduation ceremony was a full-circle moment for Thambe.

"My family was so happy for me. Their hearts were filled with joy, and I could see they were proud of me. My dad was even confused about how many people wanted to take pictures with me. I had to explain to him that I did what most people are scared to do, and I succeeded in it," he said.

READ | We all have a purpose: Pensioner, 80, becomes UJ's oldest graduate in autumn graduation season

"It's never too late to determine your success and change your life. Don't listen to other people because they will discourage you. You determine your success, and you don't need anyone else to tell you how to do it."

Thambe adds that, with the assistance of Fundza Lushaka, he's now working at a small primary school in Dinokana village, where he teaches Grades R and 1.

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