Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo visited Ixopo in southern KwaZulu-Natal this week and changed the plight of pupils at his former school, Emazabekweni Primary.
From now on pupils at the school will no longer have to use pit toilets after flushing toilets and taps were installed.
This was the judge’s initiative to pay back an act of kindness to those less fortunate after he was a recipient of goodwill when he was a law student many years ago.
During an interview with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Justice Zondo recounted how businessman Solly Bux – then based in Ixopo – made a deal with him to provide groceries for his family so he would have an opportunity to further his education and study law.
But when he returned to settle his debt after graduating from university, Bux refused to take the money and instead asked him to repay the kindness with good deeds.
In 2017, Justice Zondo, Bux and their families met and the Zondo and Bux Educational Trust was established to assist historically disadvantaged pupils. On Thursday, the judge, his wife Sithembile and trustees visited two schools in the area.
“I came back to take further the message that Mr Bux gave me; namely, do for others what I have done for you and I am very grateful that Mr Bux continues to do his philanthropist work,” said Justice Zondo.
“The school principal told me his school was very much down the line in terms of priorities, the issue of toilets can’t wait, it’s very urgent. After I had spoken with the provincial government and they seemed not to be able to assist, I then spoke with Mr Shabir Chohan who is helping in the trust and he contacted people who could help with funding,” he said.
The trust received a donation of R1million from the South African Muslim Charitable Trust which was used to build a borehole and to replace pit toilets.
The trust also completed the construction of a hall at the neighbouring Amazabeko High School which had been left incomplete since 2016.
The judge received a warm welcome from residents, childhood friends and even people who had attended school with him.
He said although his family had relocated to Durban when their house was torched during political violence, the walls of the building remained and would always serve as a reminder of his childhood.
“This is the community that made me what I am. It’s wonderful to come back home when you have good news to share with people.
I was happy to see a lot of people that I have not seen in a long time. Around 1992, during political violence, my home was attacked and burnt. What remains are just walls. Those walls remind me of where I am coming from,” he said.
During his speech, he encouraged pupils to study further and not to be discouraged by circumstances.