Sky’s the limit for Gauteng’s resilient Class of 2020, meet the top learners

Johannesburg – Gauteng’s Class of 2020 showed great tenacity to achieve a stellar set of results despite the toughest of circumstances.

The results also showed the closing gap between well-funded urban schools and township schools.

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi attributed the province’s success to the commitment by pupils, teachers and the department’s officials who were adamant that the 2020 academic year was concluded despite the disruptions of Covid-19.


“Expectations at schools across the province have remained at the highest levels, whatever restrictions our students and teachers have faced, and students have absolutely risen to that challenge. We are proud of their excellent results and the opportunities that now await them,” said Lesufi.

Top three performers in the province:

1st spot:

Karla Reinecke (Hoërskool Waterkloof) The genius from Tshwane scored nine distinctions in English First Additional Language, Afrikaans Home Language, French Second Additional Language, History, Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Life Orientation.

“Covid-19 was definitely a challenge, but the support of the teachers helped me succeed. My advice to the class of 2021 is to live a balanced life, eat healthy and remember to rest,” said Reinecke.

Reinecke will be studying biochemistry at the North West University. “The whole experience of studying through a pandemic has been profitable.

It has helped me set goals for myself and follow through on them, this will help me a lot in my new life as a student.”

2nd spot: Carla Dippenaar (Hoërskool Waterkloof)

“The 2020 academic year started out great and then we were hit by the pandemic. This forced us to relook at how we studied and had to dig deep to look for ways to stay focused when not in a classroom environment,” she says.

“My amazing teachers also helped out a lot.” Dippenaar scored top marks in English First Additional Language, Afrikaans Home Language, Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, Accounting, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Life Orientation. She will be studying medicine.

3rd spot: Noelle van der Walt (Hoërskool Menlopark)

The 18-year-old Van der Walt attained eight distinctions in English First Additional Language, Afrikaans Home Language, Geography, Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Life Orientation.

She credits her success to her “dedicated teachers”.

“Our teachers really chipped in big-time and the extra [learning] hours put us at a good place. Covid-19 has also built my self-con€dence to believe that I can achieve anything despite obstacles.” Van der Walt has been accepted to study medicine at the University of Stellenbosch .

Top performing township learners:

1st spot: Zamahlangu Mahlangu (Emadwaleni Secondary School)

The 18-year-old from Soweto scored distinctions in seven subjects: Zulu Home Language, English First Additional Language, Mathematics, Geography, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and Life Orientation with a total score of 1 698.

“Now believe it when they say education is an equalizer between the haves and the have-nots. I persevered throughout Covid-19 because I believed that if I get good marks, I will open doors for myself. Here I am today,” said Mahlangu.

“I am mostly proud of getting the bursary, so my parents don’t feel the burden of high university fees.

“Coming from and studying in a township school is not a disadvantage. We have equally competent teachers. I want to thank them for their contribution towards the success I enjoy today.”

2nd spot: Keitumetse Seepe (Pelotona Secondary School)

“It was a difficult year. The transition to online learning was difficult as we are used to the teacher being physically present. However, our school and district [Tshwane West] was very supportive and even when we went back to school, they organised extra classes,” explained Seepe.

The 18-year-old from Tshwane is still undecided whether to study medicine or accounting. “I have plenty of options,” she giggles. “I will probably make up my mind in the next few days.”

She obtained seven distinctions in Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Accounting, Setswana Home Language, English First Additional Language, Mathematics and Life Orientation.

3rd spot: Blessing Mlambo (IR Lesolang Secondary School)

The 18-year-old Mlambo is headed to University of Cape Town where he will be studying accounting with the dream of being a chartered accounted one day. Mlambo scored distinctions in Accounting, Economics, Mathematics, Business Studies, English First Additional Language and Life Orientation.

The youngster was also ranked best performing leaner in Quintile 1 schools nationally. “Covid-19 was a blessing in disguise, it allowed me more time to myself to zoom in on my studies. “I finished the Economics syllabus during the lockdown and I was ahead of schedule by the time we sat for our exams,” he said.

Top three learners at Independent Schools

1st spot: Muhammad Raees Dindar (Lenasia Muslim School)

“Prayer, hard work and self-disciple helped me persevere in an unusual year we had, and I think the experience has prepared me well for the challenges I will face at university,” said the 18-year-old.

He will be studying medicine at Wits University.

Dindar obtained distinctions in English Home Language, Afrikaans First Additional Language, Mathematics, Accounting, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Life Orientation.

2nd spot: Muhammad Riyaad Ali (Al-Aqsa School)

The 19-year-old got top marks for English Home Language, Afrikaans First Additional Language, Mathematics, Accounting, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Life Orientation.

He has been accepted to study medicine at Wits University. “My advice to the Class of 2021 is to start learning early and be ahead of the curve. Staying disciplined also works wonders. Covid-19 has toughened us to face tomorrow with con dence, we can achieve anything if we stay focused.”

3rd spot: Muhammad Adam Lunat (Lenasia Muslim School)

The aspirant electrical engineer scored distinctions in English Home Language, Afrikaans First Additional Language, Mathematics, Accounting, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Life Orientation. He has been accepted to study electrical engineering at Wits University.

He said: “What is important is working hard and taking responsibility for your own work. Our teachers’ support was phenomenal. My parents also gave me space to concentrate on my school work.”

Top 3 performers in the learners with special educational needs (LSEN) category:

1st spot: Omphile Makhanya (Prinshof Skool)

“I am only alive to my abilities and not disabilities,” explained the 18-yearold genius. “When Covid- 19 came and disrupted our school year, I saw it as another challenge to conquer.”

And conquer she did. Makhanya obtained five distinctions in English Home Language, Afrikaans First Additional Language, Business Studies, Music and Life Orientation. She hopes to have a future in the media industry.

2nd spot: Nikita Stapelberg (Delta Park School)

Nikita attained three distinctions in Tourism, Life Orientation and Business Studies. She credits her success to support from teachers and her family.

“I got over the Covid-19 hurdle b ecause o f t he strong support from my teachers who were always readily available to assist me in what was an abnormal year. Self-discipline and taking responsibility for my studies also helped.”

Nikita said she will take a gap year to get work experience and explore a qualification in business next year.

3rd spot: Siyabonga Mnisi (Filadelfia Secondary School)

Siyabonga achieved two distinctions in History and Life Orientation. “Self-belief and self-discipline got me where I am today. I thank my teachers and family for the roles that they played in my achievements.

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