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The rewards of persistence

- Refilwe Mabula

Oscar Manqaba, a Campus Control employee, is one of many unsung heroes at Wits University.

He shares his story of persistence and resilience, his love for Wits and its people, and his 13 year LLB journey through the University of South Africa.

Manqaba joined Wits University in 1991 as a “dog handler”, a job, he says, made him fall in love with Wits.

He left the University late that year to pursue religious activities and returned in 1995 as a Security Officer after experiencing a “true revelation of his path.”

He was promoted to Security Supervisor in 1998 and worked his way up to his current position of Investigations Officer.

As an Investigations Officer, Manqaba is responsible for investigating various criminal offences at the University, alerting the Investigations Manager, Operations Managers and complainants to high risk matters. He also assesses areas which require that greater security measures be put in place, and participates in dispute resolution between the University and individuals.

Over the years, Manqaba has been a dedicated and conscientious employee of the University. His dedication earned him Wits University’s Charlton Award for Service Excellence in 2005. Oscar Manqaba

The selfless man says he enjoys working at Wits because of the spirit of humanity which pervades Wits’ campuses. He says he is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that his job is done.

“You forget family issues when you are at Wits. It is like you are in another family because you find ways and people who are helping you,” says Manqaba.

Manqaba hails from the Eastern Cape. He completed matric in 1987 after which he wanted to further his studies but was unable to do so due to a lack funds.

 However, this situation did not deter his ambition. To fund his studies he found casual employment as a Security Officer.

It was then that his career in the field of Security started and he managed to raise enough money to enroll for a diploma in human resources management at the then SA Technikon.

While completing his diploma and working part time, he also completed short courses in security management and human resources management with Damelin College.

When his plan to pursue a career in human resources management did not prevail after graduating, he decided to study law at Unisa.

Like any other struggling student, he experienced hardships but continued to persevere and successfully completed his law degree last year.

“It has been 13 years of struggle to get this degree. I got married two years before I registered for my Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree. My performance was not that great, but I pushed. I just saw beyond LLB what I could do. From there I liked it and then I endured all the challenges. I was supposed to complete the degree within 10 years but for some reason I went beyond - but I completed.”

With his LLB degree, he hopes to be admitted as an advocate one day and later pursue a Master’s in Law.

Manqaba recalls some of his challenges while he was still trying to find his feet in Johannesburg. For most of 1990 he stayed in the basement of a dilapidated building.

“When I got to Johannesburg I never had a smooth settlement. I remember there was a building which was broken down in which I was staying. “

Failure was never an option for Manqaba and he was never discouraged when he failed modules for his LLB degree.

“There were other modules where I was battling a lot but I would keep on hammering,” he says.

Aside from pursuing his academic interests, Manqaba tried his hand at football coaching. From his high school days, football was a passion. In his matric year, he coached his school’s senior football team and he later attended a coaching workshop with the South African Football Association.

The ardent man of God attributes all his successes to his faith in Christianity. He believes that “what you do should help others” and he is doing his part to help others.

Manqaba is involved in community outreach programmes of his church, Eternal Life Church, where he is a church leader and an interim Chairperson of a Community-Based Empowerment Forum.