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VIWE MTWESI

“I was part of a medical team that treated former State President Nelson Mandela for months and that was a very special experience for me, thanks to the help I got from NSFAS to start my career.”



Career Field : Medicine
Occupation : Cardiologist
Years Funded : 2003; 2004.
Institution : Walter Sisulu University
Course : Bachelor of Medicine

I was born and raised in Mount Frere in Umtata in the Eastern Cape. I was raised by my grandparents as my mother was away for work and later for her own education. My family’s financial situation was as it was in most families in the surrounding areas. My parents were divorced. My grandfather was a retired teacher and my grandmother was a housewife. We did not have much and my mother was not in a position to pay for my education. In fact, my mother herself was assisted by NSFAS when she pursued her own qualification in Food Management. One thing that my grandfather instilled in us, was the importance of education. It is for this reason that most of my family are academics.

During my time at high school, I wanted to study Engineering and applied for it at the University of Cape Town. My application was unsuccessful. I went to the University of Transkei (Now Walter Sisulu University) where I enrolled for a degree in Medicine. I knew of NSFAS because my mother and some members of my family were funded by it. I applied for funding from NSFAS and was accepted. This was the happiest time of my life. NSFAS funded me in 2003 and 2004, before I studied on a bursary following my good passing marks. I was not a bright student in class, but I was working very hard. I graduated in 2007 and did my internship at the East London hospital. I later did my community service as a medical doctor at the Livingston hospital, Groote Schuur hospital, and Baragwanath hospital. I enrolled for speciality in Internal Medicine at Wits University, after which I practised internal medicine at Helen Joseph hospital. I studied further for another three years, doing super speciality in Cardiology, also at Wits University. It was while I was there that I was recommended to join the medical team that treated former State President Nelson Mandela when he was sick.

I treated Nelson Mandela for months and regard it as a highlight of my career. As a cardiologist, I specialise in treating heart related diseases. Because it is a male – dominated sector, there are less than ten female cardiologists in the country. My journey has not been easy, but I am grateful for the people who made it bearable for me. I have an opportunity to work both at public and private hospitals. The two sectors are different, and so is the patient profile, but I am glad that I am able to put my passion to practice, which is to help people. In the near future, I will open my own hospital as the specialised centre for advanced cardiology.

ADVICE TO CURRENT NSFAS STUDENTS:

“I want to say to today’s students, that a background is just there to remind you of where you come from. It does not determine where you will end up. All you need to do is dream and chase your dreams. To NSFAS, I want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity. When most funders did not see the potential in me, you did”.

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