'We came to Wits to be doctors': murdered student was determined to succeed

Yonela Zatshikila and Asithandile 'Kwasa' Zozo Lugalo were roommates at Wits University.
Yonela Zatshikila and Asithandile 'Kwasa' Zozo Lugalo were roommates at Wits University.
Image: Yonela Zatshikila

Her friendly voice and infectious, bubbly personality are no more.

The devastated roommate of murdered Wits University student Asithandile “Kwasa” Lugalo told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE on Wednesday that she would miss her “funny, crazy, adorable” friend.

“I am going to miss her every day. She was so kind,” said Yonela Zatshikila.

Lugalo’s dream of becoming a medical doctor was cut short when she was stabbed to death in the Eastern Cape on Monday. A suspect has been arrested. He has been admitted to Butterworth Hospital after he allegedly overdosed on tablets.

The 20-year-old woman was a first-year student in biological sciences.

“Hi, I'm Kwasa Lona Asemahle Asithandile Zozo,” was the warm welcome Zatshikila received when she first walked into the room she would share with Lugalo at the University of the Witwatersrand.

They were both first-year students.

Zatshikila, who remembers the moment as if it were yesterday, said she asked Lugalo why she had so many names.

She would remind me that we came to Wits University to be doctors and not be failures.
Roommate Yonela Zatshikila

“They are all my names so you can choose which one you want to call me,” Lugalo replied. The name Lona stuck.

Zatshikila said on that day in January, she knew their friendship would blossom into something beautiful.  

“I was shocked. I didn’t expect such a warm welcome. She was different. We shared so much and had a lot in common. I saw a little bit of myself in her. People always said we were sisters.”

Zatshikila, who is studying biomedical engineering, spoke fondly about Lugalo’s goal to achieve the impossible.

“She came to Wits after failing matric in 2018 and passing it in 2019.

“Sometimes when I said the assignments were too difficult, she would remind me that we came to Wits to be doctors and not failures. She would always motivate me.

“She would tell me we have been through a lot and we achieved, and we will still achieve and need to work harder to achieve our dreams.”

Zatshikila said Lugalo spoke highly of reigning Miss Universe 2019, Zozibini Tunzi.

“She showed me pictures of Zozi and told me she was her role model.”

TRIBUTE | Asithandile “Kwasa” Lugalo's friends remember her

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Yonela Zatshikila and Asithandile Kwasa'o Lugalo during an outing to the ice rink at Northgate Mall.
Yonela Zatshikila and Asithandile Kwasa'o Lugalo during an outing to the ice rink at Northgate Mall.
Image: Yonela Zatshikila

Zatshikila recalled a day they went on an outing to the ice rink at Northgate Mall in Johannesburg.

“I couldn’t skate. She told me she also couldn’t skate and that I should just try. We planned to give it our all on our second trip there, but now that she is gone, I won’t be able to go without her.

“I am going to miss her every day. She was so kind. When I was not feeling well, she would come to me and ask if I was fine. She knew me. I only knew her for a few months, but she could immediately see when I was not in a good mood.

“She was funny, crazy, adorable, determined and confident. She was looking forward to achieving her future dreams. The only thing I can say now is rest in peace.”  

Buhle Sweleni said she met Lugalo at South Point on Campus when they were collecting their room keys. They often bumped into each other on campus.

“One day she came to sit next to me. Zozibini was in Johannesburg and she told me she wanted to see her. I also wanted to see her so we bunked class and went.

“We were over the moon and were looking about Braamfontein because we thought she was still about, but some people told us Miss Universe is long gone. We went back to campus and told people how we missed Miss Universe. That’s how we became friends.”

Sweleni said they attended the same classes and described Lugalo as a “mood-lifter”.

“I didn’t feel like I was in class until she arrived. When she was not there I felt lonely. When she arrived in class she would look for where I was sitting and we would always be laughing in class.

“She made a lot of friends. If you were her friend, you would also get to know her other friends. She was a bubbly person.”

Prof Nithaya Chetty, dean of the faculty of science at Wits, said Lugalo was a bright student.

“This is truly tragic. Zozo’s class marks for block 1 and 2 show she was dedicated and completed all assignments on time and was passing comfortably, especially the module mastering biology, despite the tough circumstances of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“At this rate, she would have done well in her chosen career of biological sciences. She was very proud to be at Wits University.”  


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