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Alex student trust fund grows

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Alexandra's prominent personalities joined Gauteng's business folks to raise funds for the Vincent Tshabalala Education Trust Fund.

Donations ranged from R5000 to R140000. An auction raised several thousand rands more.

Politicians, sports stars, struggle veterans and ordinary Alex residents attended.

The fundraiser was organised by the Gauteng housing department, Alexandra Renewal Project and Alexandra Development Forum.

Tshabalala was born in Bethal in Mpumalanga on August 15 1964. He grew up and studied first in Bethal, where, aged a mere 13, he became involved in politics after being inspired by the 1977 Bethal Trial.

Later, while at the Minerva High School in Alex, he became a member and chairman of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas).

In 1982 he was a founding member of the Alexandra Youth Congress.

In 1983 he went into exile and joined the ANC's military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. He returned to South Africa in 1984.

On February 9 1985, at the age of 21, Tshabalala was killed in a gun battle with the apartheid government police in Alexandra.

Trust chairman and Gauteng premier Paul Mashatile and trustees Constance Bapela, Louis Sergio, Sizakele Nkosi, Joe Manana, Pam Mallela, Dipuo Mwelase, Bridgeman Sithole and Mxolisi Zwane established the trust in 2003 to inspire, motivate and nurture the township's promising high school pupils.

It is also intended to encourage them to be mindful of Tshabalala's fine characteristics.

The trust assists young people from Alexandra who have the potential to study and make a positive contribution to their community but are hindered owing to financial constraints and lack of awareness of available opportunities.

The trust has so far helped 27 young boys and girls to study at tertiary institutions.

The trust's aims and objectives are to:

l Award full bursaries to the top five financially disadvantaged matriculants in Alexandra;

l Sponsor two disadvantaged Grade 8 pupils to complete high school;

l Initiate local and international educational and cultural exchange programmes for pupils in Alexandra's high schools;

l Enhance the culture of learning, teaching and service among pupils, teachers and parents in the township's high schools; and

l To engender a spirit of voluntarism and nation building among beneficiaries and other pupils in Alex, ensuring that those who succeed become mentors of those who are equally hardworking and ambitious.

Described as "a conscientious, self-sacrificing, dedicated patriot who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the noble cause and ideals of an egalitarian society", Tshabalala was also honoured by having the popular London Road renamed after him.

In honouring other stalwarts:

l Vasco da Gama Street is now called Florence Moposho Street;

l Second Avenue is now known as Richard Baloyi Street;

l Selbourne Street is known as Reverend Sam Buti Street;

l Roosevelt Street is now Alfred Nzo Street;

Rooth Street is Josias Madzunya Street;

l And, Alexandra Stadium is now known as Meshack Kunene Stadium.

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