Known for high crime rates and gang warfare, Manenberg often makes headlines for murder and mayhem.
But for Vuyiswa Kubalasa, 17, and Charanick Schrader, 18, the circumstances from which they came made them work that much harder to achieve their goals.
Vuyiswa, a pupil at The Leadership College, a no-fee school in the heart of Manenberg, came top of her class with distinctions in all seven subjects and a 92% average.
Her top scores include 98% in physical science, 97% in accounting and 94% in maths.
“I’m still in shock, the marks I got were a lot to take in. I mean, I knew I was going to pass because I worked really hard,” she said.
“I haven’t decided on where or what I will be studying. At this stage, it is between actuarial sciences at Wits University or engineering at Stellenbosch University.
“I faced a lot of challenges and had to work extra hard to get where I am. We don’t exactly live in the safest place, and there is a shebeen right in front of our house that plays music at all hours of the day, and of course, the gunshots as well.
“Most nights I didn’t get enough sleep because I was trying to study as much as I could, but my mom always switched off the lights whenever she thought I was overdoing it.”
Her mother, Ethel Kubalasa, 42, said she was very proud of her daughter.
“The studying long into the night was something she did all the time, but sometimes she would hear a gunshot and she would cry, as she was scared, but she made all of us proud as her hard work has paid off,” she added.
Another Manenberg resident, Charanick Schrader came out as the top student at Christel House SA.
Charanick, whose mother died two years ago, said the rest of her family was proud of the six distinctions she achieved.
“I am very excited, this means I get to study next year, and get that much closer to my goal of being a charted accountant,” she said.
“Christel House has helped me grow tremendously as an individual.
“Christel House has taught me that you cannot count on being great or having greatness thrust upon you, but rather that the opportunity to achieve greatness is within reach of every one of us.”@WeekendArgus