From loss to legacy: Palesa Katane’s inspiring academic journey

By: Qhawekazi Memani – 12 September 2023

Hailing from Oaklands in Johannesburg, Gugu Malaza witnessed a momentous occasion on 12 September 2023, as her niece, Palesa Faith Katane, graduated with a diploma in Information Technology. Palesa’s journey began in 2018 when she embarked on a bridging course, laying the foundation for her studies in Information Technology (IT). However, her path was fraught with challenges, including academic hurdles that initially hindered her entry into the Vaal University of Technology (VUT).

With the invaluable assistance of the VUT Student Representative Council, Palesa managed to secure her place. Her struggles began early in life, having lost her mother at the tender age of six. Gugu, her aunt, vividly recalls the heart-wrenching moments of Palesa grappling with this loss. Amid her mother’s burial, young Palesa asked a poignant question, expressing the pain of abandonment: “mama why did you not take me with you,” she said.

In the aftermath of her mother’s passing, Palesa’s grandmother became her primary caregiver. Tragically, when Palesa was amid her matric year, her grandmother also passed away, plunging her into further despair. Gugu emphasizes the collective concern of the family for Palesa’s well-being during this trying period. Despite financial constraints after matric, Palesa pressed on, receiving support from her family and ultimately securing National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding for her studies.

The challenges persisted into her final year at VUT, with Palesa facing module failures while her peers graduated. Yet, her unwavering family rallied around her, reinforcing her determination to persevere. Today stands as a testament to Palesa’s resilience, buoyed by the unwavering support of her aunts, uncles, and other proud family members.

In a concluding statement, Gugu expressed profound pride in Palesa’s achievements and gratitude for the solid foundation provided by VUT. Currently interning with First National Bank (FNB), Palesa’s journey is a source of inspiration for her family, who admire her unyielding determination and refusal to ever give up.