Ngonidzashe Tutayi


Hey friend, this is my story

I was born and bred in Zimbabwe. I was born to a pastor and a teacher. Growing up my parents though they earned not so much, worked so hard to put me in the best schools. Loans to be honest paid my high school years, I was now of age and could clearly see the struggles my parents went through, but my parents always told me not to worry as it was their right to run around and find means to pay. Come, the year 2015, which happened to be my final year of high school, I really became anxious, wondered if ever I would be able to go to University and achieve my dream of becoming an attorney at law. Dying in wonder, my mother to my surprise advised me to apply at Wits where she had previously been given a full scholarship to do a masters program. An uncle offered to pay for the application fee and again to my surprise I got a place to study. Yes, I got a place, but this was no cause for celebration, as a family we clearly did not have the means to pay for tuition and accommodation at a foreign university. Honestly speaking people said I was going nowhere and at one time I believed it too, but it was not to be. My parents applied for loans, a couple of relatives and friends also gave out what they could, at this time my father had also got a new part time job that paid him not too much to add to the total but it managed to get me to Wits in 2016 for my first year. At Wits life was not easy, I had to look for part time jobs, at one time I had 3 part time jobs, this meant at times I had to be away from lectures. It was a tough time to balance schoolwork and working but I am glad I managed. At one time, things really got tough owing to the changing economic crisis back in Zimbabwe, loans were no longer accessible and neither could bank transfers be made to South Africa from zim, teacher salaries got significantly reduced and my father lost the new part time job. Some relatives offered to accommodate me, but still the tuition had to be paid, my parents had to approach machonisas (loan sharks) for money to pay my fees. Every year the tuition balance would never be paid in full. The loans that were sought from were never enough, they roughly got to the 75 % mark that international students were always required to pay before registration.

You might wonder why I never looked for scholarships, as an International student and a non-permanent resident of South Africa I was always non-eligible for finance opportunities such as student loans, bursaries from companies and scholarships. International students at Wits were and are supposed pay all their tuition for the year at the beginning of the year (75% before registration and 25% by the end of March). 


Last year, 2020, was the toughest both on the financial and academic side. It was my final year of LLB. I was a step closer to achieving my dream of becoming a law graduate, but little did I know that on the financial side, I was miles away from achieving this dream. My debt at wits had accumulated over the years, since I could register without the full amount, had risen to a point where the salary of my mother who was teacher and clergy fathers petty allowances could not reach. My mother had to quit her job so that she could go to Namibia were she thought she might find better salary that would support me in my last year of study and bring me an inch close to realizing my dream, but it was not to be as she hoped. The Covid-19 pandemic affected her prospects of getting a decent job in Namibia, part time contracts she was getting could not reduce the huge debt. Thankfully, the Lord stepped in. I texted my pastor at Hilltop Church of Christ in Johannesburg and explained to him how the registration deadline had just passed and I was still not registered, he referred me to the benevolence ministry at church who helped out with a significant amount to clear off my previous year balance. I was able to register for my final year thanks to money from family, the money only constituted a quarter of what was needed for the 2020 tuition but I thank God the school allowed me to register after signing an acknowledgement of debt agreement.

Yes, I had managed to register but the battle had not been won yet, I managed to finish my final year, which I was passed very well. Nothing was paid towards the tuition during the year, as all the money my mother was sending was going towards my accommodation. I used to supplement my accommodation money and pocket money with the money I got from part time jobs, but since the outbreak I was unable to go to work or earn anything. I thank everyone who sent money to me, from relatives, friends and the Wits Functions and Events office for timely assistance.


I have since completed my studies at wits and have passed. Due to the outstanding debt of R 75 175.54 which attracts a monthly interest charge of R471 I will not be graduating in these coming July graduations. It is important for me that I graduate and acquire my certificate, so that I can submit it for evaluation, write conversion exams and become a registered attorney at law. Opportunities for employment and further education have come by but without my certificate to show for what I have studied; I have seen all those opportunities fly past me. I have also made frantic efforts to give myself up for work so that the prospective employer instead of paying me, pays towards my outstanding tuition balance. This as well has failed to bring about any meaningful progress, as no one is currently willing to offer that employment opportunity. My parents at this stage are very much incapacitated, the little funds they have are going towards my little brothers varsity tuition. I am currently sitting at home and looking for places for legal internship. Your assistance will help me clear my debt and achieve my dream of becoming a legal practitioner.


Admitting that you need help is never any easy thing to do. I always ponder on the impact it has on people, the inconvenience caused, but as well silence takes me nowhere close to clearing that huge outstanding debt of R 75 175.54, that is increasing with the passing of every month. Every rand that you donate will go a long way in helping me clear off the outstanding. You can either be prospective employer, you can as well reach out to me. You may also have vital information of where I can get possible funding, please also feel free to share.


I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the time you spent reading my story. I am in a very tough season of my life and I believe the same is true for many more other people. Any support rendered to me or sharing of story to others, will be greatly appreciated. This is not a pity story, or a story to share how hard my life is, but rather it's an opportunity for God's glory to be shown through my story.

By Ngonidzashe Tutayi 

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