Visually impaired UFS student an inspiration

Belinda Watts, Zingisa Ngwenya and Derek Watts at the 2016 Spring Graduation Ceremony at the Callie Human Centre on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. Photo: Rulanzen Martin

Zingisa Ngwenya, a visually impaired BA Communication Science student, was one of those who graduated at the University of the Free State (UFS) 2016 Spring Graduation on 15 September 2016 at the Bloemfontein Campus.

By her side were her guardians, Derek Watts, the presenter of the current affairs TV programme Carte Blanche, and his wife, Belinda. 

“Zingisa, I saw the tears streaming down your face when you were being hooded and you were not the only one with tears streaming down your face,” said an emotional Dr Khotso Mokhele, Chancellor of the University of the Free State.

Watts first met Ngwenya at the Audi Pioneer School Rally in Worcester, Western Cape, in which she was his co-driver. He admired her ability to read all her instructions in braille.

“I was inspired by her because she had lost her sight late in her school career,” said Watts at the graduation ceremony.

Ngwenya was academically strong and her aspirations to go to university led to the relationship.  

The UFS Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support, the Kirsty Watts Foundation, Gavin Fourie from Richmond, and Symington and De Kok law firm in Bloemfontein helped make Ngwenya’s dream a reality.

“We managed the facility for her to do well, but it’s nothing compared to what she has done to get this degree,” Watts added.

Ngwenya will be studying towards a law degree at UFS, as well as working part-time at, Symington and De Kok.

“She never bemoans what has happened to her in life. She just looks ahead to make the most of her life,” Watts continued. 

“Derek and Belinda’s support means everything to me. Without them it would not have been possible because it has really been a struggle, but they believed in me,” Ngwenya said.

– Statement issued