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…to great Automotive Machinist
Battling to launch a successful career despite having a qualification can be off-putting.
This was not the case for Tabo Lungisa, an Automotive Machinist whose fanaticism for mechanics drove him on the road to success.
From failed partnerships to derailed solo business ventures, Lungisa soldiered on and is now the proud owner of T&K Engineering Workshop based in Umtata in the Eastern Cape.
“Being one of the few black people to qualify as an Automotive Machinist was an ‘ace up my sleeve’. I knew that my services were needed and had to steer the ship in a different direction when the storms arose,” he says.
Lungisa studied for a Mechanical Engineering diploma at Bethelsdorp College (now Port Elizabeth TVET College) in 1993. Upon completion in 1994, he went knocking from one door to another, looking for experiential training, until Competition Motors Mechanical Workshop in East London offered him a training opportunity, with a stipend of R20 per week.
“All I wanted was to get training so that I could qualify as a mechanic money was not an important factorfor me,” he explains.
He goes on to explain that: “Life was difficult during those times. There were days when I felt like not going to work the next morning but was motivated by seeing my father, who was an electrician, drilling walls outside in the blazing sun.”
Lungisa received another training opportunity at Anphil Auto Engineering in 1998 and was registered as an apprentice funded by the merSETA in 1999. Upon qualifying in 2004, he entered into a partnership with two people and they started a mechanical workshop, which he soon abandoned and went solo.
Lungisa explains that a lifeline came through when he found employment at a mechanical workshop in Umtata for two years, and in 2016, he received an offer to buy the business, which is now known as T&K Engineering.
Although he hit the ground running with limited funding to run the business, the boat soon sailed smoothly because he had built a good reputation and was trusted by his customers.
T&K Engineering now serves more than 10 towns in the Eastern Cape and employs 14 staff. They also train three apprentices, two of whom are merSETA-funded.
One of his apprentices, Sive Gonya from Chris Hani Park in Umtata, says his dream is to qualify as an Automotive Machinist and ultimately become a Design Engineer. Gonya studied Mechanical Engineering up to N5 level at Port Elizabeth College in 2015. He started his apprenticeship at T&K Engineering in 2017 and is due to complete his training in 2021.
His peer, Chulumanco Fumbata, from Corana in the Eastern Cape, is the only lady Automotive Machinist Apprentice at T&K Engineering. She explains that she was motivated to enter the field of mechanical engineering by her father, who is a mechanic and fixes his customers cars in their backyard at her home village. Fumbata also studied Mechanical Engineering at Port Elizabeth College up to N5 level.
“I thought studying engineering would be difficult as there are not many women in the field, but having grown up watching and helping my father work on cars, I knew I had to give it a shot.”
Xolisa Ngcatsha is also an Automotive Machinist Apprentice at T&K Engineering, whose motivation to succeed is fuelled by the desire to provide for his family. The 25-yearold father of three says his plan is to qualify as an Auto Mechanic and ultimately become an Engineer. He studied mechanical engineering up to Level 2 at Sabatha Dalindyebo TVET College and started his apprenticeship at T&K Engineering in 2017.
Lungisa is appreciative of the training opportunity provided by the merSETA. This, according to him, is the reason he always strives to assist others.