Posthumous honour for Nhlanhla Cele

Last year, MUT brought you the story of Nhlanhla Cele, a tenacious and highly motivated individual who graduated with a Diploma in Human Resources Management despite battling a rare genetic disease, muscular dystrophy. Sadly, towards the end of January 2016, the bubbly 23 year-old suffered a heart attack and passed away – a few months before he was conferred with a Bachelor of Technology degree in the same discipline.

His mother, Nokuzotha Nzama, an MUT employee dedicated to working with students with disabilities on campus emotionally shared the countless instances that her son would push himself to the limits for his education and that he looked forward to graduating this year. “For the past two years, he managed to survive with his heart rate working at 30%. His passing rocked us as a family, especially his younger brother who also suffers from muscular dystrophy. My job now is to make my children realise the beauty that is life and allow them to live it to the fullest.” She said Nhlanhla started his graduation “countdown” in December last year and “he’d always say that the ceremony wasn’t only for him; it was for his family and the many young students who think having a disability is an impediment. He had a dream of working with people with disabilities so that he could empower them.”

Giving up has never been an option for Nokuzotha and it has been her unwavering love for her children that has kept her going. “When he enrolled at MUT in 2012, I took the decision to quit my job as a domestic worker because he needed 24-hour care. I had to ensure that all his dreams were made a reality. I taught him that his disability isn’t a hindrance and that the sky was the limit for him.”

Nokuzotha added: “Wherever he is, I know he would want me sitting at Seme Hall among other graduands, taking in the atmosphere – I know his spirit will be there with me.”

Nhlanhla will be conferred with a posthumous Bachelor of Technology degree in Human Resources Management at MUT’s Seme Hall on the main campus on Thursday, 21 April at 10am.