Odirile Khonkhobe

Odirile Khonkhobe studied nursing because he needed the money. He shared a home with about 30 other family members and walked 5km to and from school. With nursing he could study while earning, so he went for it. His hard work paid off. During almost four years as chairperson of the student forum of Denosa, the country’s largest nurses’ trade union, he recruited close to 500 student members. At 32 he is Denosa’s deputy chairperson in the North West, where his rapport with students has assisted in quelling potential strikes. As assistant director of hospital services in the North West department of health, Khonkhobe is involved in licensing private hospitals and issuing public hospitals with compliance certificates. He has come a long way. “If you want to achieve something you must strive for it — all that comes free is to work hard and get a good matric result,” he says. — Fatima Asmal