Pregnant but determined to graduate

A few days before the official closing date for 2014 application at Wits, I pass by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC) in Senate House and meet a few keen applicants.

One of those applicants is a young woman dressed in black pair of warm leggings, knee length black boots and a purple fitting T-shirt half covered by her black jacket. At first glance it’s not clear whether the rounded belly of the applicant is a sign of weight she is carrying or a possible pregnancy. Her friend seated next to her quickly responds:-

“That’s the difficult question she will have to answer, “ says Asemahle Fodo.

Mbali Mthembu is pregnant, but relaxed and determined to secure a place to study at Wits next year. “Yes I’m pregnant, but doesn’t mean I can’t study or prepare for next year,” confirms Mthembu.

Both Mthembu and her friend come from Kagiso township, in the West Rand of Johannesburg. She spends R14 for a single trip to Wits to make the application in person.

“We are six at home, I am the second girl and my sister is at the Durban University of Technology,” she says.

Mthembu wasn’t able to pass Grade 12 last year. She is repeating matric at Mandisa Shiceka Secondary School hoping to do better this year. “It’s not this pregnancy that made me not to achieve well in maths and science, my parents were fighting, they separated but then later reconciled. My father relocated to KZN and mother followed him. They both work there. Yes they are living there and I live here with my brothers,” relates Mthembu.

Responding to questions about her pregnancy, Mthembu says: “I know all that stuff, contraceptives, condoms and abstention. I became pregnant well aware of those things, but then I kept myself out of sex until just on silly night”. My boyfriend is here, at Wits doing his third year, he was scared at first but now he is not any more. At the moment I have a guarantee and hope that our relationship will go on”.

“His mother supports me. She will be looking after the baby when I go on with my studies. My focus now is writing my exams in December and I’m confident I will get the marks. With the support from my parents and brothers who also give me more attention than before I will make it.

Mthembu is due to deliver her baby next month. If she passes matric and is admitted to Wits next year, she hopes to undertake a degree in psychology.