College of Law

Motivated to change stereotypes about police officers

Mbali celebrates the completion of her degree at Unisa

Mbali Rose Ngaleka recently took to social media to celebrate the completion of her studies at Unisa. Her Facebook post caused a frenzy, with many sending hearty congratulations to the young woman in blue. In this exclusive feature, Mbali shares the highlights of her academic journey at Unisa.

The journey

Ngaleka is a 26-year-old South African Police Service (SAPS) detective, and has served at the Sophiatown Police Station since 2017. Mbali holds a Bachelor of Arts in Police Science. Explaining why she chose to study at Unisa, Ngaleka says: "As a police officer, my working hours are very demanding. I work 12 hours a day, four days a week, so I would never have sufficient time to attend lectures at a traditional university." She adds that, as an open, distance and e-Learning university, Unisa was the institution of choice for her. "The College of Law assisted me by drawing up a semester study plan," she says. "This enabled me to submit assignments on time and prepare for my exams. My lecturers and professors were always a phone call or e-mail away. Furthermore, Unisa was, and still is, an affordable and value-for-money university."

Ngaleka says completing the degree took a lot of hard work and she dropped out at some point. Thankfully, a professor from the College of Law saw great potential in Ngaleka and followed up to encourage her to re-register and complete her studies. She eventually did, and today Ngaleka says she feels honoured to have a Unisa qualification. She adds: "I feel motivated to change the stereotype around police officers – it is often said that we only hold matric certificates. I now feel instilled with discipline and integrity."


Ngaleka’s Facebook post celebrating this milestone quickly went viral and topped the trends list. Sharing her sentiments, she says: "Initially, I could not believe it. I never expected the post to go viral as I was only celebrating an undergrad qualification. However, when the pictures started trending, I knew I had made a great impact on a lot of people’s lives, even though I still don’t know how.  But obtaining a BA in Policing is a great win for the criminal justice system. A learned cop means a better investigation, which results in a better trial and a possible conviction. Through the responses to my Facebook post, I realised that a lot of police officers want to study, but only a few are motivated."


While she now stands proud following this achievement, the journey to this milestone was partly made possible by other people who inspired and encouraged Ngaleka to hold on. She notes firstly the assistance Unisa lecturers offered her. "Some of my lecturers were kind enough to grant grace periods when I could not submit my assignments on time due to either police deployment, medical reasons or family responsibilities," she says.

Ngaleka says that a great deal of inspiration also came from professors in Policing such as Prof J Prinsloo, Prof NP Dastile and Prof HF Snyman. "I Google them and read their resumes all the time," she chuckles. "My colleague and commander, Captain Kupa, always provided me with in-service training. God, my ancestors and, most importantly, my mother also encouraged and inspired me. To them, I would like to say thank you."

Encouraging other Unisa students who find the academic journey a challenging one, Ngaleka says: "Never give up. I too have had to repeat a few modules. As Unisa students, we have to prioritise putting our books first and limit our social and entertainment life. Also, keep a tab on the myUnisa student portal – the student discussions are highly recommended."

* By Tshimangadzo Mphaphuli, Senior Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2021/09/30