Special Assignment: Paying Forward
The Reunion of Justice R Zondo and Mr. Suleman Bux
Report by Busisiwe Ntuli, SABC Digital News, South Africa
By Nokuthula Khanyile and Kamcilla Pillay
“When I finished matric I was confident I would get an exemption and qualify to go to university. I was confident I was going to get a bursary too but my problem was at home the situation was quite bad. My mother lost her job two years before my matric,” he said in the clip.
Zondo continues to say that by the time he finished Grade 11, his mother had exhausted all her savings.
“Somehow I felt that the community had seen how my mother struggled to raise us on her own and expected me to look for work after matric to support her. I wanted to go and do law and was determined but I felt I couldn’t do that unless I made arrangements to ensure my mother and siblings would have something to eat.”
That was when he approached Bux and asked for a loan. “Very interestingly he didn’t ask many questions and agreed to help me. He said he can’t give me money but will give me a voucher to give to my mother for groceries. Each month my mother would collect groceries up to the value of R20 at his shop until I finished my degree.”
The oral agreement continued for three years and in the clip, an emotional Zondo said he was touched by Bux’s humility when he refused to accept repayment for the loan.
“When I asked him what arrangements we could make so I repay him, he said don’t worry. Do to others what I have done to you. I thought that was very important and in my own small way I try to do that,” said the judge.
Bux said he remembered the young and energetic Zondo. “He often visited my shop and from all the students I interacted with, he was the only one who wanted to be an attorney.”
Bux said he was touched when Zondo approached him for the loan. “I told him if I gave him money it would probably get used somewhere else so I would rather give him grocery vouchers for a certain amount for his family to collect monthly.”
Bux said he had been happy to help where he could. “When he came back to repay it [the amount] as per our oral agreement I said to him” ‘Raymond the best way you can repay me is by helping another struggling student’,” he said.
When the video surfaced, Bux said he saw Judge Zondo’s face and immediately remembered him. “I remembered his face as a youngster. He hasn’t changed much. I was touched and overwhelmed with emotion when I watched the video. When we help people, we do not expect anything in return.”
He said he had not expected the story to have received as much attention as it did.