TUT student and taxi driver Joe Ndhlovu is finally graduating with a National Diploma in Public Management. PICTURE: THOBILE MATHONSI
DISBELIEF, happiness and eagerness were just some of the many emotions Joe “Banana” Ndhlovu was going through yesterday.

His life as a student by day and taxi driver at night has finally paid off, and the 38-year-old from Soshanguve will receive his National Diploma in Public Management today at the Tshwane University of Technology.

The feat was achieved despite many challenges. “I am so happy I don’t even know what to do or say; this is a true definition of long overdue,” he said.

Ndhlovu said it all became reality when he received a graduation invitation letter from TUT management earlier this month. He stopped driving his taxi to prepare for his big day.

He said he hoped to further his studies once he got a job. “I see lots of achievements ahead in my life right now; I can now get the proper job I have always wanted, get married and take my child to a proper school. I really hope I get a job so that I can further apply for my B.Tech degree,” he said in excitement.

He said not everyone in his family thought he would ever graduate after all these years, but his mother always believed in him.

Ndhlovu said the fact that he never wanted handouts from anyone was what kept him going and working hard to get his qualification. He always wanted a professional job so he could support his family and the qualification was a step to achieving his dream.

Ndhlovu enrolled for the course fresh from matric in 2001 with the then Technikon North-West before it was merged with other institutions to form TUT. He dropped out during his final year in 2003 due to financial constraints and became a full-time taxi driver on local routes.

This, he said, was a quick way to make money. But even before he became a taxi driver, he was already ferrying the people of his neighbourhood up and down during his second year of study for pocket money.

He went back to TUT in 2014 to finish his course, but by that time the curriculum had changed, and it took him two more years to finish his diploma.

But finances again stood between Ndhlovu and his qualification.

However, this time social media helped him find a “Good Samaritan” who helped him pay off his debt.

“By the time I completed my studies I still owed R6000 for my fees, and with the little I made, I would pay each month.

“My friend then suggested that we talk about my issue on Facebook; that was when I got a response from Ruben Serumula, who then paid off my debts,” he said.

He would “forever be thankful to Serumula for what he has done” and could not wait to get into the hall and get “what belonged to him”.

“I have always dreamt about this feeling and it is finally going to be a reality,” Ndhlovu said.