Armed robbery shooting survivor graduates from UFH against all odds

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Fikile Ngcani from Comfimvaba in the Eastern Cape was shot in the head during an armed robbery in Johannesburg on the 18th of May 2008.

Fourteen years later to the day of the incident, (18 May 2022) he was conferred a Bachelor of Arts Degree during the UFH May graduation.

The shooting left the 40-year-old paralyzed on the right side of his body, caused damage to his bladder and speech impairment. He uses a walking frame to get around.

Recalling the incident, Fikile said: “I went to the local store to buy airtime. When I was about to enter the store, I heard gunshots and an order to lie on the floor, which I did.  I was shot while lying on the floor, face down,” he said.

After spending three months recovering in hospital, he decided to move back to the Eastern Cape.

“I lived with my grandmother who had no means of income. We only had one meal a day and there was no money for transport to attend physiotherapy sessions. I became hopeless,” he said.

However, a strong desire to go back to school restored his hope for a better life.

“I dropped out of school in Grade 11. I knew it would be difficult to get back into the schooling system but I was determined.

”Fortunately, he was accepted at a local school where he was placed in the Grade 10 class at age 28. He passed his matric with a Bachelor pass in 2013 at the age of 31.

“My matric bachelor pass was my ticket to university.”

He applied to UFH and initially studied towards a BCom Degree in Business Management and Industrial Psychology.

In 2016 while in the second year of his BCom study, Prof Willie Chinyamurindi (Business Management HOD) nominated him for an essay writing competition organized by JUTA and company (PTY) LTD. The competition sought to recognize students who inspire others despite their struggles.

Prof Chinyamurindi said the quote Fikile wrote in his essay which was "My footsteps may be slow but I will get there," applies to of all us in the different types of conditions we struggle with as human beings. "Fikile’s story is testament that with proper guidance, support and understanding, we can all get there.”

Fikile won the competition and walked away with R40 000 cash prize. Click here to watch the surprise announcement:

Unfortunately, he was unable to complete his BCom Degree due to some challenges. He then enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 2019. Using only one hand to write, he managed to complete his degree in the prescribed three years.

“Currently, my goal is to obtain an Honours Degree, however, I have to settle my student debt first. I am hoping for financial assistance to pay it off in order to reach my goal.”

Fikile is currently looking for employment and solely depends on his disability grant. He had this to say about his graduation: “It is only now that I realize how far I have come from the day of the shooting. I had so many obstacles stacked against me but I never gave up."