A Pietermaritzburg man who was ridiculed at school for not being able to afford a uniform‚ has obtained a master of law degree.
Nkosinathi Mzolo‚ 31‚ graduated with a Master of Law degree (LLM) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal last week. Mzolo‚ who is now a graduate teaching assistant at UKZN’s Law School‚ said life was difficult‚ being raised by a single mother who planted vegetables to feed her seven children and sell to the locals.
“I had no school shoes and my mother could not afford the R23-a-year school fees in primary school. A teacher helped buy my uniform. Despite all the challenges I was very diligent‚ never missed school and maintained first position in class throughout primary school‚ was headboy and was involved in sport and the school choir.
“In high school I was laughed at for not having a school uniform. In Grade 10 I stopped attending school because I was too embarrassed. Two teachers visited my home to find out why I was not at school. They said I could wear anything as long as I returned. I studied very hard and did well in tests and assessments. For every test I did well in I was rewarded by my teachers with a different item of uniform‚” he said.
He said to earn money he worked on weekends as a taxi conductor‚ starting when he was a teenager in Grade 10.
“Unfortunately I had no funds when I finished matric to pursue my studies. I got my driver’s licence and started driving taxis‚” he said.
Mzolo said in 2006 he and his cousin‚ Prosper Zulu‚ who had obtained financial aid to study‚ hatched a plan that enabled Mzolo to register at university.
“Prosper did not tell his family about his funding. The money his father gave him to pay his registration fee‚ he gave to me which I used to register at Durban University of Technology (DUT) to study civil engineering. I applied for financial aid but was required to pay R800 mid year which I could not afford and dropped out.”
Mzolo said he returned to driving taxis‚ until the following year when his high school principal gave him R2‚500 to register for a Bachelor of Arts at UKZN.
“I received financial aid and residence. I continued to drive on weekends and holidays to earn extra money to help my sister study tourism at DUT.
“Unfortunately two months before I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in 2012 my mother passed away and never saw what she cultivated in me pay off‚” said Mzolo.
Mzolo said the injustices done to illiterate and vulnerable people made him want to study law and fight for people’s human rights.
“I want to first be an academic before becoming an advocate and eventually joining the Constitutional Court‚” he said.
Mzolo’s masters research – “The Rule of Law‚ the Principle of Legality and the Test for Rationality: A Critical Analysis of South African Jurisprudence in the Light of the Separation of Powers” – examined issues in South Africa’s constitutional democracy.
“The growing observation of the crisis in our current leadership has been one of the most worrying factors. The dominance of greed and ulterior motives in decision making as I perceive it‚ has tainted the integrity and moral campus of our leadership‚ robbing us of our democracy.
“Our role is not limited to developing‚ supporting and engaging with our societies towards defining and realising justice. We need to uphold and defend the values of the constitution and as such hold the society true to its values. We also need to tackle sensitive issues like land and economy in future‚” said Mzolo.
Mzolo serves as a disciplinary committee member of the South African Football Association’s Umgungundlovu Regional League.
He said people should not let circumstances dictate their destiny.
“Make it shape your character and personality to make you an even stronger person. You are the only person who can dream your dreams‚” said Mzolo.