FROM THE GARDENS OF STANGER TO SABC- VUSI KHUMALO
*Caption: The versatile SABC News reporter, Vusi Khumalo during the relaxing times.
Written by: Menelisi Ndwandwe
It is very rare that you will listen to the South African Broadcasting Cooperation (SABC) radio stations and you do not hear the news from the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal.
These news range from albino attacks in Manguzi to Reed dances in KwaNongoma and the reporter that is responsible for feeding SABC news radio is the gifted Vusi “KaMapendane” Khumalo.
Khumalo is always on the road, he knows N2 very well. Journalismiziko caught up with him whilst he was driving to Manguzi for a story, after which he would return to Richard’s Bay for the South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA).
Khumalo is currently a senior multimedia journalist and is heading SABC Richards Bay bureau, covering three districts, namely King Cetshwayo, Umkhanyakude and Zululand.
He comes from the humble beginnings, born in Hangoes near Groutville in KwaDukuza. He started his education at the local primary schools and matriculated at Tshelonkosi Secondary School in the year 2001.
“I passed with good grades, I passed with Merit and I recall that the certificate was written I can go to any university in the country,” said Khumalo.
However, the route to the university needed to start in the garden. In the year 2002, Khumalo worked as a gardener in the suburbs of Stanger Beach.
“I came from a family that could not afford to take me to tertiary, I did not know of financial aids such as National Student Financial AID Scheme (NSFAS) back then it was called something else.” explained Khumalo.
As many experienced and wise people would say, “Love what you are doing, you may not know who is watching from that garden experience.” This was evident when Khumalo landed himself a job as the merchandiser at one the stores at uMvoti Ultra City (Shell Garage).
It was no surprise that the owner of the store was also the owner of the garden, which the senior SABC reporter was working at. Khumalo and his employer Emric Pilz had a good working relationship.
While for a good three years he worked as a merchandiser, he was constantly trying to get to a tertiary institution. He tried ML Sultan and the University of Zululand but financial constraints denied him the opportunity of being be called a “student.”
He was not shy to say he supports the current student movement #FeesmustFall, however, he says the approach is not superlative.
“The manner of which some tertiary institutions are doing is out of hand, vandalising yield free education,” said Khumalo.
In Khumalo finally managed to enrol as a Journalism student at Durban University of Technology.
“My first year was challenging, I think the type of schools one attended played a big factor. Assignments are done in a particular way and submitted in a particular manner,” stressed Khumalo.
“There was a radio station that we as students used to gain experience, I recall reading the news once,” he added.
In October 2007, the ambitious Vusi applied for a job at the SABC, with third years of study. He was already working at Taxi Indaba Newspaper, where he published stories such as the aftermath of the tsunami.
Because KwaDukuza is far from Durban, during the weekends and holidays, Khumalo would go to his hometown to work at the “Shell garage.” At was at this time that which he missed a call from SABC that was summoning him to an interview.
“We were not allowed to use the cell phone during working hours. In the evening I used to call back all the contacts that were trying to call me,” he said.
After calling back all that contact that had tried to get hold of him during the day, Khumalo learnt of his summon from the SABC and he managed to get an interview with them. He did well in the interview, but the issue was that he is still needed to do his third year at school. During that period, the internships used to start in February at the public broadcaster.
“I tried to convince the management that I can complete the studies at University of South Africa (UNISA) but they were not in the same view. Fortunately for me, they said I must come during the weekends for much-needed experience,” said Khumalo.
This was when the major breakthrough for him, and he received mentoring at SABC by the seasoned journalist Nhlanhla Nxele.
“He taught me all the tricks of the industry and made me feel at home in the newsroom,” said Khumalo.
Khumalo did his formal internship at Ilanga Newspaper, as the Entertainment section reporter whilst on weekends, he was the reporter at the SABC.
He did not limit himself. He voluntary worked with Victor Molefe in the weekend sports show. One would say Khumalo is the sports fanatic, he is the pioneer of Annual Vusi Khumalo Games in KwaDukuza. This is the initiative of ploughing back to the community.
The Richard’s Bay news bureau has also finished Comrades Marathon two times in 2012, 2013 and he missed the Berea cut-off time by less than a minute in 2014 edition.
Khumalo has been at SABC for eight years. He has shown his versatility as both radio and TV reporter. His remarkable moment as the journalist was covering the 2010 FIFA World Cup and he contends that the vibe at Durban Fan Park was startling. Hard work and seeing no bearers is what has pushed Khumalo to where he is shining today.