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Solly shakes off disaster to step up

Solly's Glass Fitting and Steel Works employs three people from the village.
Solly's Glass Fitting and Steel Works employs three people from the village.

Ex-farmer bounces back with steelworks and glass workshop after thieves stole his livestock

Determined to escape the clutches of poverty, Solomon "Solly" Mahlangu strived to be self-sufficient.

In 2005, then aged 25, Mahlangu began a thriving business as a livestock farmer at his home village of Machiding in Mpumalanga. Then one night in 2014 disaster struck. Livestock thieves robbed him of all his animals, leaving him with nothing to show for almost a decade of hard work.

But instead of throwing in the towel, the father of two picked himself up and looked elsewhere to rebuild his life.

Mahlangu turned to the trade skills he acquired at college to build his future as a master welder and glass fitter.

"To raise funding for tools, I opened a makeshift roadside restaurant, selling open-fire cooked meals. My clients were mainly taxi drivers, construction workers and teachers. I saved enough money to even buy a piece of land to open my first workshop," Mahlangu said.

This is how the thriving Solly's Glass Fitting and Steel Works was born. The workshop, which employs three people from the village, produces and fits steel gates, burglar doors and windows as well as steel fencing for a wide market including public schools and business establishments.

Also displayed at the workshop are braai stands modelled out of old car rims, steel cages, artistic steel garden chairs, fireplaces and gas stoves.

"My dream is to grow the business so that I could employ more people to break the chain of poverty. I always preach the gospel of learning to my employees so that they could one day start their own businesses and employ more people," he said.

Mahlangu advised his peers to stop complaining and instead roll up their sleeves.

"Use everything around you to realise your dreams. It is not about luck, it is all about your attitude."

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