Uma ungenayo into ebalulekile ongayisho, vele uthule.
When Ntokozo Kheswa was growing up in Wembezi outside Estcourt, the N3 was a big barrier between the township and town. Crossing it was an adventure reserved for special occasions and although young Ntokozo was warned by his elders that the freeway was a dangerous place, he remembers the nice feeling he and his friends got when crossing the N3. They enjoyed admiring the beautiful, tarred road (theirs were so dusty) and spotting lots of exciting cars. Then, while studying Civil Engineering at the Durban University of Technology, he travelled often on the road and through the taxi window, started to notice the repair teams, road signs and scenery.
As part of the third year course requirement, Ntokozo was required to complete some practical work. Lecturer, Andrew Dhebideen, recommended students apply to N3TC and although Ntokozo was not in class that day, his friends encouraged him to submit an application. No doubt they were less than impressed when he beat them to the post!
“I won’t forget the day Con Roux first phoned me”, he recalls. “I was about to write an exam and had to politely ask him please to call me back later. I didn’t realise that this call was actually my interview. I am so pleased that he did phone again!”
Ntokozo, or Christopher as his colleagues call him, has really grasped the opportunity which came his way, working and studying hard to repay N3TC for their faith in him. He is about to complete his Bachelor of Technology degree and enjoys his weekly trips to Pietermaritzburg, on the ‘best road in Africa’. “The more I study, the more knowledge I get and the more passionate I become about my profession.”
He has great respect for the mentors in his life – his Aunt, Nokuthula Radebe, a teacher who brought him up and taught him important values, Route Manager Anesh Madanlal whom he works with in Harrismith, and the rest of the N3TC team. Anesh comments: “I have learnt that mentorship is a two-way street. Christopher has shown me the true challenges of life and how one can overcome adversity and still be a wonderful person. It is inspiring for me to have such a determined and focused young man to work with. The N3TC development and mentorship program acknowledges desire to learn and will continue to assist him in the future”. Ntokozo is also an admirer of motivational speaker Linda Sibiya of Ukhozi FM. “Linda has overcome similar challenges to achieve success in his life.” says Ntokozo. “We share the belief that true greatness comes from within”.
Determined to help children who have limited opportunities, he has set up a bursary fund to assist top achievers at his old school Drakensberg Comprehensive High in Wembezi, where he was Top Student in his Matric year. He hopes to encourage others who have successful careers to do the same thing at their schools. Local educators believe he is a positive role model to their students and he is in demand as a speaker at school prize-giving ceremonies. “It is really important to give back. God will never look at your achievements; he will judge you by your actions.”
His daily job as Route Superintendent for Section One of the N3 from Tugela River to Cedara gives him great pleasure. He enjoys doing it well, contributing with confidence towards finding solutions to the issues on the route and meeting people from different cultures along the way. Often he joins colleague Vasanth Sonalal in Estcourt and they take a drive together, sharing their knowledge and expertise of road building and talking about life. Ntokozo particularly enjoys the road when he is off duty, then he really gets a chance to admire it without having to look out for blocked culverts or damaged guard rails. “My favourite part of the road is driving past Wagendrift Dam wall. It is so beautiful. I even have a picture of it in my office.”
Ntokozo shares his cosy home in Tshiwane township outside Harrismith with his daughter Malwande and his sister Tebiso. Tebiso helps take care of Malwande while studying for her diploma in office administration. She is a great cook and prepares Notokozo’s favourite meal of pap and vleis often. Probably too often as he is trying hard to lose a few kilograms by working out on his exercise machines every day! At the weekend, Ntokoso and Malwande enjoy walking in the park. Later, she is likely to be found playing with her favourite Winnie the Pooh toy, while dad watches a Kaizer Chiefs game on TV or listens to gospel music.
Although determined that Malwande should not have to face the difficulties he did when growing up, his concern extends to the wider community too. “I would really love to see our kids being taken away from streets and given a better life and education.” With good teachers and the right guidance Ntokozo is certain that many people would be able to turn their lives from “rough rock into something made of gold”. This is how he describes his personal transformation since becoming involved with N3TC. It is obvious however, that the potential was always there. It didn’t take much to make this young man shine.
“I am glad N3TC is a young company with a bright future. I wish to be a part of the company until the end of time.”