Give this matriculant an A+ for perseverance
Faction fighting temporarily robbed a young man of a chance to write exams, but he’s determined to succeed
On a Saturday in November 2017, Grade 12 pupil Scelo Mkhwanazi was beaten to a pulp after he was ambushed by schoolchildren from a rival village while on his way home.
After the brutal assault, Mkhwanazi, a pupil at Mbuyiselo High School in Mandini, on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, was hospitalised for a month and underwent emergency surgery for internal bleeding.
The attack sparked tension, and matric pupils at Mbuyiselo were forced to write their exams under police guard.
No one knows for sure who or what sparked the intermittent fights between two villages, but it is said to have started in 2015. But at the time of the 2017 attack, pupils claimed the fight was sparked by a traditional stickfighting ceremony at the weekend and the loser taking the fight to school in an effort to reclaim his honour. As a result of the assault, Mkhwanazi could not write his matric exams in 2017 and was told by education authorities he could only write in March last year after he had recovered.
Then it was later postponed to June, then to October, last year.
Despite the fact that Mkhwanazi, described by Mbuyiselo High principal Gabriel Mkhwanazi as one of his class’s brightest stars who carried the hopes of the school on his shoulders, he still managed to get a bachelor’s pass last year.
He has not been able to confirm all his symbols as yet, but he is thrilled that he obtained a bachelor’s pass, which makes him eligible to study at university. “It was very hard. There were subjects that I had to study before writing my exams because I had been told that I would not be able to write them. I am glad that despite all the hardship that I encountered I still managed to get a bachelor’s pass. I had thought it was going to be difficult,” he told Times Select this week.
But now Mkhwanazi, 21, is facing another challenge.
Because it was not clear when he would write his matric exams, he was not able to apply for a place at tertiary institutions and now finds himself sitting at home.
“I’m struggling to get space because I did not get enough time to apply because of the problems I encountered, as I did not know when I would write matric,” he said.
He wanted to pursue medicine, but is now considering nursing because he does not want to waste the whole year sitting at home doing nothing.
“I want to pursue medical studies to lift my area because there is now no one who has such qualifications and I could be of great help to the area,” he said.
To this day Mkhwanazi still does not know why he was beaten up.
“I don’t know why they beat me up and they have never explained. I think it was the problem at the school and they wanted to pay revenge to anyone from my village because of faction fighting in the area.
“I was beaten up in so many places such that I had to undergo surgery because of internal bleeding. Initially, I spent five days in hospital and was discharged. But when I was back home I started losing strength, and I was hospitalised again and spent about a month in hospital until I was fully recovered,” he said.
Provincial education spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said they were very concerned about faction fighting, especially if affected children’s education.
“As a department, we strongly condemn such incidents as they negatively affect teaching and learning when such faction fights spill over to our schools,” he said.
Mkhwanazi’s Mbuyiselo High School was among the 123 schools in the province that achieved a 100% pass rate, and he was among the 38,573 pupils who achieved bachelor’s passes to study in universities.