Friends compete, bag top honours as matric Class of 2023’s finest

It is a nail-biting wait for results for 898 520 matriculants who wrote the National Senior Certificate exams. But for the country’s 34 top achievers, it is a nerve-wracking wait to find out who is finest among them.
Who’s the fairest of them all?

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga honoured the top achievers and their parents and guardians at a breakfast in Fairland, Johannesburg today. She will announce the results of the Class of 2023 and the best performer among the top achievers at 6pm today.

The announcement of the results will settle a long-standing question of who is the best among two friends. Friends Samkela Gumada and Nizibone Mapolisa attended and wrote matric at Athlone School for the Blind in Western Cape. They are among the country’s top achievers.

Mapolisa said they had this healthy competition between the two buddies, who are visually impaired. It ensured that they were sitting together among the top achievers in the country.

Healthy competition between friends

“Not only do we study together, but we also challenge and motivate each other to do well. We alternate between position one and two in our subjects at school,” said Gumada.

They are also neighbours because they are at a boarding school.

“I sometimes check if the light in his room is still on. I won’t sleep as well if he is still up. He motivates me to study harder,” said Mapolisa.

Gumada and Mapolisa met in 2016 and have been inseparable since. They are studying the same subjects, so the game is always on for the top spot.  Who will dominate in IsiXhosa (home language), English (first additional language), life sciences, history, maths literacy and life orientation (LO)?

Always inseparable 

They even competed in the matter of whose family the school called first to notify them of being shortlisted. It was a matter of debate between two.  

Mapolisa, said it was him that first got the call from the principal. However, he waited a while in order to ascertain if his friend was also shortlisted.

For Gumada the fact that he called his first to ask if he received the call is confirmation that he got the news first.

Gumada and Nizibone were not the only friends who were enjoying rubbing shoulders with top officials in the Department of Basic Education.
A friend in need, is a friend indeed
Innocent Mbimbili and Siyabonga Vuma from DD Mabuza Comprehensive School in Mpumalanga are friends in need, indeed and in studies.
Siyabonga Vuma and Innocent Mbimbili from Mpumalanga./Phumla Mkize

They had their hair freshly cut for the event. The two friends also want to go far away from Mpumalanga to pursue engineering studies. Their first choice is Gauteng, the University of Johannesburg in particular.

Plan to leave province and pursue varsity together

“We grew up in Mpumalanga, we want to study outside the province,” chuckled Mbimbili.


They are studying technical subjects, and Mbimbili said he finally decided to pursue a degree in mining engineering.

“I was not sure what I wanted to study,” said Mbimbili. His subjects are technical maths, technical science, engineering graphics and design, SiSwati (home language), English (first additional language) and life orientation.

He said he expects at least five distinctions, in English and LO, that he is crossing his fingers for.

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