Own boss schooled by past mistakes to the top

Being a drug addict, living on the streets and being rejected by his family did not prevent a 35-year-old North West man from fulfilling his dream.

Tetsu Afrika Mangwegape runs a successful pub, chesa nyama, restaurant and a car wash under the name "The Meat Brothers" in Taung, one of the province's poorest towns.

Mangwegape believes he opened the business in the right place as residents and visitors to this town previously did not have a good venue to chill out.

Afrika said his business started small, only making about R3000 per month, but now it is booming and on a good year he can rake in up to R500000. He started the business in January last year.

And who would have thought the man who once lived a life of stealing, just to get a fix, would ever be this successful?

"I was hooked on drugs; alcohol did not do anything, I needed something stronger. I stole from everyone, even my family," he said of his unenviable past.

Mangwegape said he was one of the top pupils in school but got hooked on drugs because he wanted to "fit in".

"Most drug addicts came from disadvantaged backgrounds at that time, but I was provided with everything, including good education," he said.

He went to a boarding school in Bloemfontein for his secondary education, and that is where his problems began.

He got arrested and even served jail time. "During my matric year, I stole a sound system from school and I got arrested. I was only released on bail the day I was writing my final year examination," he said.

Surprisingly Mangwegape passed his matric with good marks. "University was not an option at that time, all I wanted to do was to get high. So, I worked as a waiter to feed my habit."

He moved to Pretoria after matric to live with his mother where things got worse.

"At some point she chased me away from home because I stole almost everything the family owned," he said.

After living a hard life on the streets, one day he decided to go back home and told his mother that he wanted to change.

His mother put him into a rehab centre for three months but shortly after coming out, he relapsed.

After his second rehabilitation programme, he decided to go back to Taung because he knew that he would not have easy access to strong drugs.

"While back home, I realised that my friends had progressed in life, they were driving cars, some were married and living a good life. It hit me hard that I had nothing," he said.

What awakened him more was when people talked behind his back about how he used to top them all in class yet "now he was a nobody".

Things changed after his father died in 2016. He developed a better perspective and a new will to succeed in life. At the time, he was running a small shop selling food and fat cakes and he suddenly saw an opportunity to turn it into a bigger business and asked some relatives to lend him capital for his expansion.

"I used to work as a waiter and bar tender while in Pretoria. So, I asked myself what exactly did I like and what I was good at, and it was not difficult to realise my passion," he said.

Mangwegape believes that his youthful mistakes were the path that God wanted him to go through. "I do not regret any stage of my life, all those experiences made me the person I am today."

Today he runs The Meat Brothers together with his brother Karabo.

"I made my recovery my own responsibility. I did not want to blame everyone for my failures, and the big difference this time was that I was tired of the life I was living."

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