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Basetsane Thokane

"I was like all poor, black teenage girls in the streets of South Africa"

The 1million1month collaboration between the SRC, Wits, public and private sectors enabled academic support to reach 219 students, almost 60% of whom are young women. The biggest share of funds went to the upfront payment of fees (29%) and accommodation costs (21%). Almost 60% of these students have since secured full bursaries. These students previously qualified academically and financially but were declined funding from the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme because of a delay and deficit.

One donor proved to be the tipping point for the 1million1month campaign. Basetsana Thokoane donated R553 000, the amount required to reach the R1-million target before the upfront payment registration deadline. Her motivation to donate was driven by empathy and compassion. She was born in Soweto and was herself no stranger to socio-economic hardships. During Apartheid, she went into exile with the African National Congress (ANC) in Tanzania – an experience, she says, which made her who she is today. It was her education by the ANC’s education committee that set her on the path to success.

Thokoane’s donation to the Wits students is both a tribute to her benefactors in exile and an acknowledgement of her roots. She says she cannot live amidst the poverty in South Africa simply because she has achieved.