I am Olothando Lerato Mhlongo, a fourth year LLB student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I grew up in a rural area in Umzimkulu, KwaZulu-Natal. I attended primary school at Creighton Primary School and high school at a prestigious school called Inanda Seminary in Durban.
My mother is a single mother to three children. As I am the oldest, the idea of me attending university is what my mother considers as one of my greatest achievement which she is extremely proud of. As proud as she is, it was not a smooth road for her financially to make my studying career possible because for the first two years it was difficult for her to pay my tuition fees. I would apply for almost every financial aid that I would come across but I was never successful. I came across LIPCO Law For All and applied to their bursary programme. I was successful! Since 2015 LIPCO’s NPO, Fees For All, has been paying for my tuition fees and because of them I am hopefully going to be completing my degree this year (2016).
In all honesty law was never a career I considered to pursue but when I was in grade12 where I had to apply for tertiary studies I was unsure of what exactly I wanted to pursue and so I conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on myself which made me realize that a career in the legal field is maybe what I should consider. I did exactly that, I changed all the options on my applications to legal courses and I have never turned back ever since. The more I study law the more I become passionate and fascinated by the legal sphere and legal system. Studying towards a law degree has encouraged, strengthen and will enable me to be fit to occupy positions where black females are needed and gives me the opportunity to have an impact on the South African legal system.
What I want to achieve in life is to live life to the fullest by exploring the world and never stop learning from what is exposed to me so that I can reach my utmost potential. I plan on achieving this firstly by obtaining a Masters Degree in either Business Law, Maritime Law ,Taxation or Environmental Law. Since I do not wish to be admitted as a practicing attorney but I want to do work that will allow me to utilize my law degree and expertise to an extent that I have an impact on our legal system. Secondly, I want to be a role model not only to my siblings but to my friends, students and even colleagues by doing my very best and by giving back through assisting others where I can because as it is said, to whom much is given much is required.
With regards to #FeesMustFall, my take is that education is a basic right that is entrenched in our constitution so it should not be a commodity and if #FeesMustFall is a way to enable people to exercise that right then so be it .Under the same breath I do not think that there should fall to 0%, for now at least, on the basis that the state of our economy at the moment will not be able to facilitate such, education standard in South Africa is very poor especially in schools where the pupils do not pay school fees so it would be detrimental if no fees would not be paid in university and this would also affect the university employees in a sense that firstly there would have to adjust the income may be to a much lower income salary which would have an impact on them and this will lead to tax increasing which at the end of the day affects the parents of those who are demanding a 0% fee. This issue is a very sensitive issue which will require the government to really look into and apply their minds properly because as much as the fees must fall, the government must work on achieving ,hopefully in the near future, a free education of good standard at tertiary level.