Taxi driver defies the odds to earn his diploma

Mzameki Sibunzi talks about his journey of getting his diploma after being a worker on a farm and a taxi driver.

Despite numerous daunting life challenges, Mfuleni taxi driver Mzameki Sibunzi, graduated with a National Diploma in Accounting at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), on Tuesday December 12.

After he matriculated in 2007 in the Eastern Cape, he could not afford to study further had been forced to look for work instead of fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer.

With no money to go to university, he got a job as general worker on a farm in Grabouw where he worked for two years.

But the R320 he earned a week was not enough to support him and his family – and he realised very quickly he was not earning nearly enough to start saving for his tertiary education.

While his fellow farm workers criticised him for working on the farm when he had passed matric, he continued to work there, saving enough money to apply for a driver’s licence. With a licence, he hoped to be able to secure a better job.

Mr Sibunzi said immediately after he got his driver’s licence, he applied three times to join the South African Police Service (SAPS) but had been unsuccessful.

Then, in 2010, he became a taxi driver but held on to his dream of furthering his education.

The year 2013 was a bitter sweet one for him. While he was successful in his application for a bursary to study toward a BCom degree, his application to UWC was unsuccessful.

At this point, he said, he felt that his dream of getting a qualification was slowly slipping away from him. “For a week I locked myself up at home and had no strength to face the world. I had lost all hope,” he said.

But, he said, “God worked in mysterious ways” and in 2014 he read about a bursary opportunity in Vukani.

He applied and was successful. But he feared that once again, he would not be able to get into a tertiary education institution. And there were those who doubted him.

“My taxi driver colleagues laughed me and said I will fail. They told me I won’t pass and I will come back to the taxis. I battled to cope, especially in my first year and I had many sleepless nights. But in the end I perservered. My dream was delayed but not shattered.

“I did this not for myself only but for other taxi drivers. I think the passengers would also respect us because some of us did not choose to be taxi drivers but life challenges forced us to be. Not all of us are uneducated and rude as we have been labelled,” he said.

Mr Sibunzi said that during the week he would attend classes and on weekends he would drive taxis.

He said next year in March he will start his internship with the City of Cape Town and he hopes that after that he will get a permanent job.