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Zondo’s remarkable journey from pointsman to tycoon

‘I always tell my subordinates to further their studies’

Bheki Zondo is the boss of three Traffic FreeFlow companies in the country.
Bheki Zondo is the boss of three Traffic FreeFlow companies in the country.
Image: Supplied

From directing traffic at Joburg busy intersections to directing a company’s vision, this is how Bheki Zondo rose to become the CEO of a traffic controlling company.

Zondo, who began his career as an Outsurance pointsman in 2007, arrived in Johannesburg in 2005 from Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal to seek greener pastures and raise finances to study law because that was his dream from when he was in high school.

The 38-year-old is now the owner and CEO of three Traffic Free Flow (TFF) branches situated in Johannesburg, Tshwane and the Cape winelands in Western Cape.

Since 2016, Zondo has been championing the deployment of pointsmen to the busiest intersections to assist commuters reach their destinations on time.

“The journey of becoming a CEO and qualified lawyer was very challenging for me. After I became a pointsman I enrolled with the University of SA [Unisa].

“I would wake up early at 4am every day to catch a taxi to my designated intersections for four hours and then go back home to attend to schoolwork. I would then return at peak hour to the same intersection to do another four hours.

“I have to say juggling work with school takes a lot of discipline. At the time, I stayed in a backroom in Alexandra township, ” said Zondo.

But he was no stranger to hard work and determination as he had been working as a cleaner for about a year upon his arrival in Johannesburg. This was his first job, and his second was that of a messenger.

“I worked as a messenger for about two years. I was always on a scooter going from one place to another. I can say I was the “Velaphi Mjongeni” of the company I worked for,” Zondo laughed, referring to a 1990s SABC comedy about the turbulent life of a messenger.

Traffic FreeFlow really played a role in my success because they would finance my studies while I was working for them, and right after I obtained my law degree I got a promotion to become pointsmen supervisor.”

Zondo went on to study human resources and joined TFF’s HR department before later taking a business course, which paved his way to being a CEO.

“I started as CEO at the Tshwane branch and I was also made a shareholder. Now I own all three of them. This is why I always tell my subordinates to further their studies.

“We make sure to pay for their fees because this is how I got here

.“We have witnessed pointsmen turning into traffic cops and metro police officers. Some of them get their motorbike licenses because we pay for them while giving them training internally,” said Zondo.

However, Zondo is pleading with the public to show love and respect for pointsmen as their job is to make sure that traffic flows.

“Even though pointsmen are not permitted to issue out traffic fines or enforce the law, they are there to make sure there is safety on the roads. Some motorists do not comply sometimes. Our work is in demand. We are working on deploying more pointsmen in the regions of Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

We always get calls to assist in some places but we are not enough. We have 240 pointsmen and are still looking to hire when we expand,” he said.

Zondo also cautioned motorists who give money to displaced people who take it upon themselves to control traffic.

“We are having an issue with the vagrants, and we would like to caution members of the public that as much as they can be helpful, they can also interfere. They get money from some motorists while controlling traffic but sometimes when traffic lights are not working, they are the ones who know how to switch them on and off as much as they like.

“Sometimes they do it to cause traffic and just jump in at intersections to direct motorists so they can make money. We have had instances where we would contact the Johannesburg Road Agency but they would tell us the robots are working, they were just tampered with,” said Zondo.

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