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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

‘Matric muthi’? KZN top achiever rises above hurtful ‘noise’ from peers

Nomfundo Mthembu says it was all hard work and not muthi that secured her a spot among the country's top 30 matric achievers.

Nkosi Ntulakabayise High School matric pupil Nomfundo Mthembu is the perfect example of how true grit and steely determination can make one beat the odds to emerge triumphant over life’s adversities.

Sacrificing the comfort of her home for a rented backroom just to be closer to school, was not the only hardship the gutsy 18-year-old from Hluhluwe, in KwaZulu-Natal, was forced to endure.

There was also hurtful allegations from her peers that she was using muthi to achieve good grades…

Gutsy KZN top achiever Nomfundo Mthembu’s journey to success

Through her tireless efforts, Nomfundo, however, secured herself a spot among the country’s 30 National Senior Certificate (NSC) top achievers with her second place on KwaZulu-Natal’s list of top-performing matrics.

KwaZulu-Natal’s top achiever, Olwethu Kuhlekonke Khumalo, hails from the rural Mandla Mthethwa High School. The province has increased the number of matric national top achievers from 10 last year to 13 this year.

“I still can’t believe it, but I know and am confident that I am deserving because I put in the work and took responsibility for my own life,” Nomfundo told Zimoja in an interview.

‘Every second counted’

She explained that she convinced her parents to rent a backroom closer to school so that she could use rather use the time she spent travelling, to hit the books.

“Travelling was wasting my time and to me, every second counted. School started at 6.30am and ended at 2.30pm. I would take a bit of time to rest and eat. When I was done with this, I’d go back to my books for four hours straight and that was my daily routine,” Nomfundo told the publication.

ALSO READ: Girl power and mechatronics: WC’s Melissa Müller tops matric class of 2023

Nomfundo says muthi mockery ‘broke my heart’

She also recalled how she was subjected to fellow school pupils’ mockery that she excelled in her schoolwork because she was “using muthi”.

“All their comments broke my heart because I spent sleepless nights studying. This while my peers thought I got good grades because teachers liked me or that I was using muthi.”

The unwavering support of her mother and her uncle, however, gave her the strength to “ignore all the noise and focus on my future”.

“And now I am here today among the greatest,” said the top matric achiever who has applied to study medicine at the University of Cape Town this year.

ALSO READ: Like father, like daughter: Kganyago’s maths prodigy gets 11 distinctions

NSC matric pass rate

Melissa was among the 34 matric pupils hosted by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga for the class of 2023 congratulatory breakfast on Thursday morning, in Randburg,.

In the evening, the official result of a 82.9% pass rate was announced.

The national matric pass rate is up by 2.8% from the 80.1% pass rate in 2022 with the Free State retaining its top position nationally, with a pass rate of 89.03%.

NOW READ: Matric results 2023: DBE must face ‘sobering reality’ of alarmingly high dropout rate

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