Making it in business with values of ubuntu

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

Lebohang Khitsane attributes his success in business to principles he learnt from his father Jacob.

It is these principles that have helped him run the largest 100percent black-owned tombstone making company in the country.

Khitsane, 33, of Katlehong, started Bataung Memorials just four years ago but it has enjoyed 300percent growth in the past three years.

"My father taught me that a man is an architect of his own misfortune and fortune. I chose to be the latter," said Khitsane.

His father died at the age of 76 in 2006, having taught Khitsane all he needed to know.

Khitsane said his father made him paint the burglar gates that he used to make at his firm. It was also based in Katlehong.

His mother died when he was only six, so he grew with his father and aunt in Katlehong.

By the time Khitsane was 18 he had already learnt the traits of business. He started a printing business and later ventured into clothing retail.

"My father worked for only two years as a plumber, after that he started his own plumbing business.

"I have always known that I want to be self-employed.

With just a matric and no business training Khitsane saved the profits from his clothing shop and raised R300000 to open his new business, Bataung Memorials, with his brother Setlopo Khitsane in 2004.

They named the business after the Basotho clan to which he and his team belong.

"We started with just three guys who did all the work from designing, cutting and polishing the stones," he said.

Today Bataung has branches in Soweto, Katlehong and Tembisa. Khitsane's wife Maria runs the Soweto office and they have two girls - Tsoelepele, 8, and Atlehang, 4.

The company designs and erects tombstones throughout the country and in neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zambia.

The stones range from R2285 to R200000.

Bataung has made tombstones for among others the late Safa boss Solomon Morewa, Jabu Khanyile and Vuyo Mokoena.

Khitsane also donated tombstones for the late Muvhango actress Lindiwe Chibi, Fana Khaba known as DJ Khabzela and eight tombstones for pupils who drowned in Richards Bay in 2005.

"I still believe that ubuntu should be an integral part of my life. These are the values that have made me who I am today," he said.

He also owns a restaurant in Katlehong, which is for "chilling with friends".