Businessman and philanthropist works to make dreams come true
Local Heroes nominee Tyelovuyo Buhlungu supporting families, students in need
Eastern Cape businessman and philanthropist Tyelovuyo Buhlungu thought he had seen it all until he encountered a destitute family of 13 who had to use a neighbour’s house to hold a funeral for their parents after a 2010 hailstorm flattened their rondavel and left them homeless.
Buhlungu, owner of Tyeks Security Services, has been nominated as a Local Hero.
He was moved to act when the Mabhaso family’s plight was brought to him a year ago by Mthatha journalist Pamela Timakwe, of the Eastern Cape Women’s Magazine, and Ncise community activist Lungelwa Mabongo.
The nine Mabhaso siblings from Ncise village near Mthatha are aged between 22 and 33, and between them have four children aged two to 13.
“I could not sleep at night thinking about this family,” Buhlungu said.
“This family’s situation, and how they buried their parents, hit where it pains the most. I cried and asked for God’s wisdom on how best to assist.
“The family asked for a two-room flat but there were too many people for two rooms, so I decided to build them not a house, but a home, restoring their dignity as a family.
“They were struggling so much, so I thought let me lend a helping hand.”
Buhlungu also offered to train two of the members at his security academy and employ them to ensure the family had an income.
Last week, Buhlungu handed over the R400,000, fully furnished house to the Mabhasos.
It has three bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, veranda, flush toilet, septic tank, and a fenced garden planted with vegetables.
Sithandiwe Mbhaso, 22, said: “When our parents died, we had to ask neighbours to use their home for the funeral services and prayers.
“We were pained that we didn’t bury them with dignity. But now we have a decent house, a place to call home.
“I wish my parents could see this. I’ve realised there are some people out there who care for others.
“How beautiful this country could be if we had many Buhlungus, Timakwes and Mabongos. This is a life-changing gift.”
Providing the house is just one of Buhlungu’s many humanitarian acts.
He has donated houses in Ncise and Tabase, and churches, community halls and early childhood centres in Mqanduli, Elliotdale, Ross Mission, Qokolweni, Tsolo and Qumbu.
The former deputy principal has funded needy students in medicine and engineering.
“This family’s situation, and how they buried their parents, hit where it pains the most. I cried and asked for God’s wisdom on how best to assist. The family asked for a two-room flat but there were too many people for two rooms, so I decided to build them not a house, but a home, restoring their dignity as a family."
“The latest is a brilliant young woman now doing third-year medicine. She came to me crying [because she could not pay her fees].
“The company looked at her historic debt, about R85,000. We cleared the debt and gave her a full bursary, and she is doing well,” Buhlungu said.
One of his bursary beneficiaries, a young petrol attendant, is now a doctor at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane.
Buhlungu was two when his father died and left him in the care of his elder brother, Jongikhaya Buhlungu.
“The late Jongikhaya who raised me like his child and sent me to tertiary [education]. My passion to assist others came from there.”
Buhlungu began teaching in 1995. By the time he quit in 2007 to start his security company, he was a deputy principal.
“While I was still teaching I became a taxi boss, first owning four bakkies operating in and around Elliotdale.
“Later I owned seven minibus taxis before my cousin Fezile Ntobongwana, who owns Xhobani Security Services, advised me to start a security company.
“My brother and my cousin instilled in me the sense of ubuntu and the concept that umntu ngumntu ngabantu (a person is a person through other people — I am because you are and you are because I am).”
Buhlungu employs more than 6,000 people.
“Making a difference in people’s lives and changing them for the better is what makes me sleep at night,” he said.
Tyeks Security Services is also involved in an initiative to end 60 years of violence in Majola outside Port St Johns.
With the Sizwe Kupelo Foundation and others, they held the Phants’iintonga Majola Sports Tournament at the weekend, in which 22 soccer clubs participated.
Sizwe Kupelo, who nominated Buhlungu, said: “His work has changed the lives of many ordinary South Africans through an endless list of humanitarian initiatives.”
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