Growing up in a household with six siblings and a single parent whose only source of income came from his mother’s earnings as a nanny, opportunities were definitely limited for Vuyile Mconsti. For many people from poor communities, the inability to afford basics robs our society of the potential of our youth before they really get the opportunity to test their limits.
Close to having his potential left unrealised, Vuyile found himself working at Pick n Pay for a couple of years while assuming the responsibility of providing for the family. For many in South Africa at the time, not being able to access tertiary education was simply an economic reality. Having not forgotten the importance and power of education, against all odds Vuyile sought to pursue a tertiary education - a BAdmin in Politics and Economics and the University of Western Cape (UWC). Even though resources were limited for Vuyile, he knew that he had to craft his own opportunities and open his own doors.
It is during this difficult time that Vuyile’s calling chose him. This calling arrived in the form of a friend who happened to be studying law. Being an inquisitive person, Vuyile found his interest in Law growing as he engaged with his friend. Engrossed in literature in his spare time, Vuyile began to view the Law as an instrument which could be used not only to empower the marginalised but also to effect positive change in society.
“Milton Berle once said that if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
It was at this point that Vuyile, inspired by his mother and grandmother (two towering women who were the embodiment of tenaciousness and compassion), decided to create his own door by enrolling in the University of Cape Town’s LLB programme. Through most of his LLB, Vuyile’s limited financial resources placed immense strain on his academic performance. With his family struggling to make ends meet, Vuyile nevertheless soldiered on, becoming ever more appreciative of opportunities availed to him and continuously creating opportunities for himself even when circumstances seemed hopeless.
One factor did, however, make an enormous difference – the Law Faculty Endowment Scholarship Fund. With assistance from this fund, supported by generous alumni and other donors, Vuyile was able to focus on his studies fully as the scholarship removed much of the burden of debt and financial strain of pursuing an LLB degree.
Vuyile is currently practising at his law firm Mcontsi Attorneys Inc. in Kwa-Langa which he opened after being admitted as an attorney and conveyancer in September 2018. Currently it is a small firm - but the plan is to grow it into a success. One of the aims of the firm is to provide legal assistance to individuals who do not have the financial means to obtain a legal practitioner of their own and this is done in association with Langa Community Advice Services. Vuyile is also involved in the process of ensuring that the municipality complies with its constitutional and statutory obligation of providing alternative accommodation to people who face eviction and are might potentially be rendered homeless. He is also currently completing his LLM in Constitutional and Administrative Law at UCT.
Vuyile has an important message that he wishes to share with potential scholarship donors, as well as a message for prospective Law students:
“There is always someone who needs financial assistance such as students that are in a similar position as I was while I was doing my LLB. There are students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in their studies, but are not privileged to do so because they do not have the finances or any financial support/assistance to pay for their academic fees. There were quite a number of students I knew who were brilliant but had to drop out of school because their families did not have the financial resources to pay for their studies. By providing a deserving student with a scholarship, you are really making a positive impact in ensuring that the society we live in becomes better. I am living proof that when one is given the resources, there is a high chance that they will succeed.”
Prospective UCT Law students
“It takes dedication, hard work and never giving up and knowing that the ultimate goal is to get that LLB. Attend your lectures, tutorials and do all of your readings. If you do not understand a particular principle or aspect of the law, go to your lecturer during their consultation hours, get assistance and keep on knocking on those doors. Talk about the law with fellow students and share your understanding about how a particular principle is applied.”