Phakamani Dludla has completed his degree in language practice, but his outstanding fees means he is missing out on his dream job.
The 26-year-old from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) managed to get a job teaching English in China, but without paying the R32 000 he owed the institution, it refused to give him his certificate to prove his qualifications.
So, last Monday he took to the streets and appealed for donations to his fellow students – and now he has only R6 174 to pay.
“The largest amount I got was from a woman I don’t even know, who deposited R5 000 into my account,” he told City Press on Thursday.
We met Dludla under a tree at the Soshanguve North campus’ bus terminal.
In his one hand he had a 2-litre cooldrink bottle with its top cut off, which he uses to receive his donations.
At his feet was a piece of cardboard on which was written a message asking for help.
In September Dludla was offered a job to teach English in China, and his passport and bags were packed.
But the man who hails from Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal, owed the institution money.
“I tried writing to TUT and pleading with them to at least send copies of my qualifications to the embassy and the agency, but all that was in vain because their response was that, unfortunately, it is against their policy,” he said.
He claims that a woman in the fees office told him that he could even speak to TUT’s vice-chancellor, Professor Lourens van Staden, “but I would not get helped”.
“She asked me why did I study if I knew that I was not going to be able to pay,” he said.
He also tried approaching banks but failed because he could offer no surety on a loan. Desperate, he took to standing at the traffic lights last Monday.
“People laughed at me, even students. Some told me that I was trying to scam them. I did not take that to heart because I do not care what people say – because at the end of the day, I am doing this for myself,” he said.
Last Monday afternoon, he managed to collect R400. The following day, to avoid the heat, he decided to ask his fellow students for donations on campus, and then realised he was making more money there.
“Students understand the situation more than someone who is driving their own car,” he said.
This is not the first time Dludla has had to ask for donations. He attended two graduations with help from kind people.
“I had to make a plan so that I could be like other kids on the special day. It is important that you also look good, even if the situation is bad.”
Dludla said after his mother died, he had to ask for donations to bury her.
His elder brother, a security guard, is the only one of his three siblings who has a job.
Dludla said that last week, it was difficult for him to talk about his situation without bursting into tears.
But this week, things are looking up.
“Now I am going to get that job and go to China, and help my little sister who matriculated last year go to college,” he said.