TT Matanzima graduates after 32 years

It took 32 years but Lieutenant-General (retired) Themba TT Matanzima finally has his degree.

The 65-year-old grandfather of two, brother of Transkei homeland president KD Matanzima, graduated with a BSc from WSU’s Nelson Mandela Drive (formerly Unitra) campus on Friday.

He majored in psychology and political science. Matanzima registered for his undergraduate degree at Unitra in 1986.

He abandoned his degree in favour of a military career, where he racked up a number of accolades. After apartheid and its homelands policy fell in the 1990s Unitra, a hotbed of 1980s anti-apartheid student resistance, was incorporated into WSU in 2005. Matanzima is now the military ombudsman after retiring as SANDF chief of joint operations.

He was the oldest by far of about 100 students who graduated in his class.

The upbeat Matanzima quipped: “Most were not yet born when I first started my degree.

“I have achieved many things in my life, but there is nothing more jovial than graduating with this degree here where I started. This institution has a place in the hearts of all of us who grew up in Transkei. Graduating from it is a bonus.”

Unitra was established by his brother KD during the homeland era.

“Because he loved education he ensured that youth from rural poor Transkei received affordable education on their doorstep. The institution, which is no more Unitra and is now WSU, has a good track record in producing the cream of the crop. Its graduates are big names in the judiciary, medicine, economics and accounting as well as other sectors,” he said.

He matriculated at a school for chiefs’ sons, Jongilizwe High in Tsolo in 1976, before joining the Transkei Defence Force (TDF) in 1977. After additional training in the UK and Ghana, including a certificate in public administration he returned, and in 2005 he graduated from the Christian University of Potchefstroom – now Northwest University – with a Masters in administration.

“For the past 30 years I have been busy with my military career.

“But despite achieving elsewhere, I vowed I would complete this degree no matter how many years it took – and that it would be with this university.

“I am happy my prayers have been completed,” said Matanzima.

When he was a major in the TDF he and General Bantu Holomisa toppled his cousin, Prime Minister George Matanzima and later deposed Stella Sigcau.


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