College of Law and
Management Studies

Higher Education Transforms Lives of Newcastle Family

UKZN alumnus, Mr Banele Mgabi of Newcastle became the first person in his family to get a university qualification when he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting degree back in 2012.

The achievement inspired his siblings, older brother, Khayelihle, and younger sister, Nomkhosi, to 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 through UNISA.

Meanwhile, Banele – who was awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Finance, Banking and Investment Management, with distinction, at this year’s UKZN Graduation ceremonies – 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.

At RCL Foods he is responsible for guiding pricing decisions and providing valuable insight to facilitate meaningful discussions around product, financial and operational performance. ‘This new qualification has sharpened my thinking in financial decision-making, especially when faced with limited financial resources,’ said Banele.

Prior to RCL Foods, Banele was employed as a cost accountant at Famous Brands Ltd and was responsible for the full costing function within the manufacturing division.

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 complexities I had to endure while completing my first degree. I am genuinely amazed and very grateful,’ said Banele.

Secure in rewarding jobs thanks to their Higher Education qualifications, Banele and Khayelihle decided to demolish their modest three-roomed house and have built a modern four bedroom home with an en-suite bathroom for their mother, Mrs Regina Mgabi. The brothers are also funding Nomkhosi’s studies through UNISA enabling her to take care of their mother while studying at home. Banele has purchased himself property in Umhlanga.

Regina said she had lost hope when her husband passed on in 2012, however, her children have ‘filled my 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.

Words: Hazel Langa
Photograph: Rogan Ward