While most of the country gets excited on July 18, proudly posting their 67 minutes of “good deeds” in the name of the late Nelson Mandela, there are some people who live Mandela Day daily.
One of those is the chairman of Entsika Consulting, Zakhele Mkhize. True to his company’s slogan “Driven By A Desire To Make A Difference”, Mkhize does the kind of good the former statesman preached.
A sportsman who has run the Comrades Marathon and done IronMan, Mkhize took the elite runners coached by the renowned John Hamlett under his wing two years ago when Tom Tom pulled out as a sponsor.
To say he and Entsika shook up running club circles would be an understatement, their care for the athletes’ wellbeing now and for the future being revolutionary.
Last weekend at the Entsika Athletics Club’s end of season awards function, it became clear that Mkhize’s giving culture permeates his company when their two athletes who finished in the top 10 of Comrades pledged to give 10% of their earnings back to the club.
Entsika AC has a social running wing with aspiring runners from poor backgrounds – they will be grateful to Gordon ‘Zane’ Lesetedi and Siya Mqambeli for their gift.
It was, however, the decision by Mkhize and his leadership team, to back orphaned twin sisters Thulisile and Thobile Amon for their studies in the US that left many in awe.
The 20-year-old twins completed their high school studies at the Tuks Sport High School last year. Their running prowess earned them sports scholarships to study Bachelor of Social Services at Munroe College in New York.
The dream was threatening to turn into a nightmare, the twins needing to raise funds for their flight tickets, visas and miscellaneous expenses throughout their four years of studies.
Their guardian Emanuel Mabaso sent letters requesting donations to all and sundry and was beginning to panic as he got no hits, what with the twins having to fly out in the second week of August.
Enter Mkhize and Entsika and everything got sorted.
“Entsika commits to support the twins for their four years in the US. And we will do whatever it takes, not only the flights but their expenses too,” Mkhize said.
The smiles from the twins, who will also be joining Munroe’s cross country and track and field athletics team, lit up the room.
For Mkhize it was business as usual, helping others out clearly in his DNA. He helped build a church in a KZN village, and provides long-term support for an orphanage in Mpumalanga.
A few years ago he helped a young man who had aced his matric go study medicine. Upon completion, Dr Phakamani worked a little over a year only to die in a car accident last year. Mkhize, having helped Dr Phakamani with the view that the former would break the poverty cycle in his family, took the deceased’s younger sister under his wing. He will pay for Amanda Kunene’s tertiary studies once she completes her matric this year.
All this he does while ensuring athletes such as Gift Kelehe, Lesetedi and Mqambeli are not only taken care of as they strive to be Comrades Marathon kings but also that they will have something to fall back on once their running careers end.
Did I hear someone brag about their 67 minutes ‘‘good deeds" for Mandela Day?