Man graduates after 17 years


Worcester petrol attendant and cleaner Joseph Khohlokoane (44) graduated after 17 years with a BSc degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT).

"Now my heart is at peace," he said after the graduation ceremony which he attended with his wife, Zoleka, and 16-year-old daughter Balesa.

Joseph completed his degree in December 1996 but owed the university about R30 000 and couldn’t graduate until the debt had been paid.

“I wanted to pay R100 a month but they said it was too little,” he says.

So he worked as a petrol attendant for 10 years and as a cleaner for another seven years at Shell Ultra City Breedevallei in Worcester.

Joseph’s employer, Willem Venter, says a farmer in the area, Clarence Johnson, arranged for Joseph’s debt to be paid. It had over the years ballooned to R100 000.

Joseph says his faith became stronger and he firmly believed he would get his degree at some time or other. “I [had] lost all hope I had of one day getting my degree. But four years ago I accepted God into my life. I knew that one day I would get [my degree],” he says.

Students can use their qualification even if they haven’t yet paid their fees, UCT spokesperson Gerda Kruger says.

“Although there’s an outstanding debt the university will still confirm with potential employers that the student has successfully completed his academic course,” she says.

Joseph is now looking for a job as social worker.

-Janine Nel

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()