South Africa’s first deaf law graduate silences critics

What an incredible achievement.

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Qobo Ningiza will graduate on 12 April. This achievement will not only be a celebration for him and his family, but will allow other South Africans in a similar situation to have hope.

Who is Qobo Ningiza?

Ningiza was born and raised in Ntseshe
Location in the Eastern Cape. He has five siblings and is the only member of
his family who is deaf.

Ningiza attended a school that lacked the basic resources necessary for him to achieve a sound level of education, disadvantaging him even further. Learners were forced to share textbooks and the school’s infrastructure was severely lacking. Due to a shortage of qualified teachers, subjects in high school could not be chosen but were rather prescribed, according to which subjects had teachers.

Ningiza’s hearing siblings did not
experience the same level of education, and he grew up acutely aware of the
injustice he faced because of his deafness.

It was this realization that not all people are treated equally that began a stirring in his life to help fight for human rights and to change the status quo. He felt motivated to earnestly seek equality and to face the cards that life had dealt him.

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Ningiza’s determination

Ningiza sepnt an entire year looking for a
university that would allow him to study there as a deaf student. It took
several attempts, but most institutions he approached could not provide a sign
language interpreter and he was denied access.

Finally, UCT’s Disability Service
facilitated his registration for tuition and residence and assisted him with
bursary applications. He received dedicated support and interpretation and felt
an overwhelming sense of support from his classmates as they took notes for him
while he could concentrate on his interpreter during lectures.

Ningiza is now busy with his LLM and is applying to law firms where he can serve his articles next year.

Despite some negative feedback, Ningiza remains hopeful, “There is nothing I want more than to make a difference in other people’s lives. I believe that we are a country with a lot of potential and that many of our problems would disappear if we focused our energy on assisting those in need.”

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