My name is Vaughan Bonakele. I am a post-graduate full time student at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg (Wits). I was born in the West Rand, west of Gauteng. I grew up in the former mining town of Randfontein. I went to primary school at Laerskool Betsie Verwoerd (now West Gold Primary). During primary school I was in ‘Special Class’ (referred to as LSEN (Learners with Special Educational Needs)) until a chance turn of events led me to resume regular mainstream schooling in grade five. I’ve been trying my best ever since to defy stereotypes and beat the odds. Then I attended Randfontein High School where I was Head boy. I like rugby (I played at Ellis Park during primary), cooking and reading the most. Readers are leaders … my favourite author is probably Thomas Hardy – who happens to share a birth date with my late uncle – he always encouraged me to read religiously. Not a coincidence if you ask me, ha-ha …
I’m currently studying towards an LLB. My undergraduate degree was a BA with majors in Politics and International Relations. I have an incredible reverence for my humanities background; I believe it has endowed Me with all of academia’s necessary skill sets to fully engage both academically and socially. I won’t be going into a comparison of the degrees offered in different faculties, or which trumps which but I know I’m glad to have studied in the social sciences. Many of its tools of critical thinking; analysis and reading I employ in pursuit of My law degree today.
My immediate decision to study law was to hone and sharpen the skills I had imbibed from My BA educational experience and chart a course where I could one day influence the state of affairs in our country. One of the overriding themes in the curricular of an average humanities student is the idea of social justice. The betterment of our socio-economic state, not only as a country or continent but for the extension of such ideals of justice, fairness and equality to a wider global and multicultural community. I’ve always thought of Myself as above all fair and objective, and My fascination with law is how it is a an unwavering institution of openness and objectivity. Despite our painful past, our courts have become incredibly instrumental in the stability of our young and sometimes faltering democracy.
My other inspiration for pursuing a law degree is inspired by the figures (both past and present) that makeup our incredibly intelligent and independent judiciary. The steadfast contributions to uphold and thereby sanctify our Constitution is something, I as an aspirant advocate, and hopefully later member of the bench, look up to with fervent fascination. I am conscious that for South Africa to overcome its challenges, be they historical or contemporary – economic or political. The law must always be there to help build and mend bridges and better our country’s democratic enterprise. Whether in public law or private law the role of the law is imperative to all interests of societal success. I personally believe I will and can contribute constructively and positively to our legal establishment. The ideal and principle of the rule of law is a notion every South African should come to embrace and espouse. Whether lawyer or layman.
Equality is also a sentiment that has also inspired Me towards this profession. As one is privileged with potentially being an advocate of those voices in society that may not be audible. Our Constitution is especially unequivocal on the theme of equality. Law is the one institution that is most poised and impartial to especially aid men in reaching common ground. With our poignant past and bright future, one of the pillars imperative to a just and equal society will be our law and societies reliance and trust in it. When all avenues are shortcoming, people must never be despondent towards legal recourse or refuge.
I was introduced to LIPCO’s Fees For All by another incredibly bizarre chain of events. I will make an attempt of narrating how my fees fell in brevity… Here goes. It was the twelfth of February 2015 when I in my last desperate ditch of attempt to get funding for My registration fee, decided I’d call My favourite radio station, Five FM. I planned to particularly to infiltrate DJ Fresh’s breakfast show ‘Fresh @5’. Because I listened to his slot the most and I knew of his educational initiatives in helping many others to further their studies and I knew he’d be keen to hear Me out. I dialled about twelve times on the 12th and on the thirteenth ring a very welcoming voice met My shocked and nervous pleas to get on air. Shocked because I couldn’t believe I was actually calling a radio station to ask them to let Me speak on air in order to ask for a potential bursar to fund My post-graduate studies. I’m very conservative but My desire to study would not be quieted by proud shyness. The welcoming voice was that of miss Catherine Grenfell, Fresh’s executive producer at the time. She very politely said they were completely pressed for time but said if I tagged her on twitter she’d do her utmost best to help Me get My registration fee by tweeting and stuff. And true to her word she did! Endless retweets and countless others on the internet spreading the word.
The 12th was a Thursday and early on Friday the thirteenth Cath (and a friend of hers from Cape Town who was instrumental for making LIPCO’s Fees For All aware of my situation), after rallying for my cause on Twitter and Facebook, emailed Me asking that I provide her with Wits’ banking details and my student number. For purposes of giving these details to a sponsor who was considering paying for the mandatory upfront payment, almost R10 0000. I immediately became numb, incredulous and excited all at one go … Few minutes after that, I got a call from an Advocate from Cape Town and Managing Director at LIPCO, Jackie Nagtegaal. Offering to not only pay for my registration fee but cover my entire year’s financial costs at Law School. Needless to say I was elated and eternally grateful. To Cath for selflessly listening to me on that desperate day hours before final registration would close. To LIPCO’s Fees For All for believing in this country’s future. Because investing in the education of this country’s youth is a declaration by the likes of the directors of Fees For All, saying we believe in South Africa. Its prosperity and competitiveness. Its progress and development, as they are heavily dependent on an educated youth.
LIPCO’s Fees For All made my fees fall way before #FeesMustFall was a thing, they did so recognizing the importance of tertiary education and the positive ripple effects it will have in society as a whole. Education must be more accessible and as the private sector they have led by example by funding Me and countless others. That’s not where they wish to leave it, ‘Fees For All’ will now embark on a journey to grant bursaries, to many more candidates with drive and dedicated to their studies, students who are unable to pursue their studies due to financial constraints. I have no doubt that ‘Fees For All’ will change the landscape of financial sponsorship in SA and make lifetime contributions to our country’s educational establishment.
I am one of the first who have been granted a full bursary, including accommodation.