A Zimbabwean top achiever in the 2019 National Senior Certificate examinations in the North West is struggling to raise funds to go to university because her parents are poor.

Triphin Mudzvengi, 18, obtained distinctions in seven subjects but does not qualify for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding. She came to South Africa with her parents in 2010.

Mudzvengi cannot approach the Zimbabwean embassy for any assistance either, because the Refugees Amendment Act forbids refugees and asylum seekers to visit, seek aid or communicate with their governments.

She hoped to study civil engineering at Wits, where the annual tuition fee is R149,370. Though she qualifies for a R15,000 bursary as a top performer, the university demands 75% of the fee upfront before she registers.

Mudzvengi’s father is a part-time bricklayer and her mother is a domestic worker.

Chris Mapingure, chairman of the Zimbabwe Migrants Support Network, told GroundUp that he had hoped to convince the Zimbabwean embassy to help Mudzvengi, but the Refugees Amendment Act made that impossible.

“We don’t agree with the Refugees Amendment Act because it exposes refugees and asylum seekers to poverty. We want this girl to attend university. This benefits not only her but the entire world,” said Mapingure.