N3TC Hero – Ntokozo Kheswa
“Uma ungenayo into ebalulekile ongayisho, vele uthule”
“If you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing.”
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 course requirement, Ntokozo was required to complete some practical work. His lecturer recommended students apply to N3TC and although Ntokozo was not in class that day, his friends encouraged him to submit an application. “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 recently completed his Bachelor of Technology degree. “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”.
His daily job as Civil Engineering Technologist gives him great pleasure. He contributes with confidence towards finding solutions to the issues on the route and likes meeting people from different cultures along the way. 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.” Unfortunately, Ntokozo’s arm was amputated after an accident recently, something of a setback one would think. However his attitude, as always, is positive “What measures the strength of a human being is not how they fall, but rather how they rise after they have fallen.” he says.
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.
“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.”