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Higher education transforms the lives of Newcastle family

University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) graduate Banele Mgabi danced on stage as he was awarded a Post-graduate Diploma in Finance, Banking and Investment Management, at the UKZN Westville campus, on 5 April 2019.

Mgabi, who hails from Newcastle, became the first person in his family to get a university qualification when he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting degree in 2012.

The achievement inspired his siblings, older brother, Khayelihle, and younger sister, Nomkhosi, to both study for Bachelor of Education degrees. Currently, Khayelihle is Head of Department at Isikhalisezwe High School, in Newcastle, while Nomkhosi is in her second year of study at Unisa.

Mgabi is a Management Accountant at RCL Foods in Durban and is enrolled for a Master of Commerce in Finance degree, focusing on consumer credit behaviour.

Discussing his latest academic achievement, he said: "This means a lot to me. My academic journey was disturbed in 2012 due to the death of my father two months after I graduated with my accounting degree.

"I dedicated my latest qualification to my mother, who tirelessly encouraged me to further my studies and use the potential I have to the fullest.

"This qualification has fully reflected my academic potential, as I completed the qualification with distinction, obtaining first-class passes for seven out of eight modules studied. I never thought I could achieve such academic grades due to challenges I had to endure while completing my first degree. I am very grateful," said Mgabi.

Secure in rewarding jobs thanks to their higher education qualifications, Mgabi and his brother, Khayelihle decided to demolish their modest three-roomed house and built a modern four-bedroom home for their mother, Regina Mgabi. The brothers are also funding younger sister, Nomkhosi's studies.

Regina Mgabi said she had lost hope when her husband passed away in 2012, but says her children have filled her heart with joy. "My family are all living a better life now thanks to my sons. We were poor and could not afford university fees and are thus very grateful to all the funders and the University of KwaZulu-Natal," she said.