Simlindele Khumalo: Matric Prodigy with a Vision for Rural Healthcare and Social Change

Simlindele spoke to DSD News after receiving his award from the Department of Basic Education recognizing him as one of the Top Performed students from KwaZulu-Natal.
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BY PRECIOUS MUPENZI

KwaCeza is a deep rural area in the northern part of KwaZulu Natal. More recently, the area was severely affected by inclement weather that wreaked havoc in the area. Several houses and schools were destroyed by the strong winds and storms. However, that did not seem to stop KwaZulu-Natal’s top matric achiever, Simlindele Khumalo of Ondini High School, who aimed to bring healthcare to the doorstep of his community.

He excelled in his Grade 12 National Senior Certificate, ranking among the top performers in KwaZulu-Natal. As a result of his achievements, he received an invitation from the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, in Johannesburg.

In a video circulating on TikTok, Simlindele is seen dancing with his schoolmates radiating joy. He has every reason to be the happiest student in KwaZulu-Natal, the second-best performing Province after Free State. Simlindele’s exceptional academic record includes an impressive 7 distinctions, with outstanding scores such as 100% in Maths, 99% in Accounting, 97% in Physics, 96% in Life Science, 93% in IsiZulu, 91% in English, and 96% in Life Orientation. Despite his incredible success, his aim was nothing short of perfection, aspiring to achieve 100% in all his subjects.

Simlindele stands out not only for his academic capabilities but also for his social awareness. Recognising the challenges faced by his peers and the broader community, Simlindele, who secured a position among the country’s top 30 achievers, aspires to realise his dream of enhancing healthcare accessibility in his rural village of KwaCeza near Ulundi.

According to the KwaZulu Natal Department of Health, Ceza Hospital has 120 useable beds plus 12 lodger mother beds. There are 9 fixed clinics and 1 mobile clinic with 30 visiting points. No clinics are offering a 24-hour service but Ceza Hospital provides this service. The Hospital serves a population of about 40 353 in an area that is deeply rural with very poor gravel roads and also marked by high unemployment and poverty rates.

Khumalo explained that he would carry out this vision once completing his medical studies, he has been accepted at the University of Cape Town, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the University of Pretoria.

“It has always been my dream to be a doctor. Growing up in a rural area and seeing that people have to travel long distances to clinics and hospitals to access quality healthcare evoked the ambition of becoming a doctor. If I become a doctor, I will mobilise funding and open a 24-hour one-stop medical centre for poor people in my village to enable them to access healthcare services without traveling long distances,” he said.

Simlindele spoke to DSD News after receiving his award from the Department of Basic Education recognizing him as one of the top-performing students from KwaZulu-Natal.

Simlindele Khumalo identified teenage pregnancy as a significant concern that required more attention and action. He emphasised the importance of educating young boys and involving them in efforts to prevent unplanned pregnancies as a crucial step in addressing the issue.

“The exclusion of boys in the conversations perpetuates the stigma associated with teenage mothers. As young boys, we stigmatise pregnant girls and see them as loose, but the fact is some of them are impregnated by boys at school,” he said.

He explained that he had observed that teenage pregnancy was on the rise yearly and while there were programmes at schools, these programmes mainly spoke to girls.

“It takes two to tango, so boys must not be excluded in the conversations and interventions. Girls do not impregnate themselves, there is a boy or man who makes them pregnant,” he added.

Khumalo, who is the eldest of four children, implored the government to settle on a plan of action to resolve the country’s load shedding.

“It is a major challenge to matriculants, particularly for those in schools in rural areas.” He said another challenge he experienced in his matric year was the issue of data. “As matriculants, we are expected to access some learning exercises or tutorials online and that requires data which is not cheap.”

In offering encouragement to the class of 2024, Khumalo emphasised the importance of self-belief, highlighting that success in matric demands dedication, hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice. “Discipline and sacrifices were very instrumental to my achievement. I only had access to my cell phone on weekends. I wanted to focus and did not want any distractions,” he said.

The pride of Simlindele’s mother in her son’s achievements was unmistakable, expressed through joyous leaps, dances, and ululations as she warmly embraced him during the breakfast event. “To say, I am happy, is an understatement. Thanks to my son for making me and my family proud,” said Scelokuhle Khumalo (43) with excitement on her face.

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