From Accountant To Gardener, The Unemployment Tale In SA


A KwaZulu-Natal woman has made it her sworn mission to find a proper job for her gardener who told her he was a qualified accountant who turned from accountant to gardener in order to support his family.

Luyanda Sikhakhane, 30, from Sea View Durban, met 26-year-old Bongani Mtolo during one of her trips to the shops one Saturday late last year.

“He told me he had experience in painting, gardening and welding. Fortunately, my gardener had pulled a disappearing act and I did not have someone at the time.”

The woman told Mtolo to come to her house the next Saturday at 07:00 to cut the grass since there was nobody to do it.

Then it happened that one day, Sikhakhane was helping her younger brother with his accounting homework in the dinning room. Her brother Siyabonga, is a matric pupil, who was struggling with his accounting homework.

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Meanwhile, Mtolo who was at the dinning table for his lunch noticed how they were struggling with the homework and offered to help.

“Maybe I can help you?” Mtolo offered.

“I looked at him and said ‘whatever’!” Sikhakhane recalled. Sikhakhane later gave up as she had no knowledge of the subject and could not help her brother.

“He started helping my brother and he started recollecting everything that he had learnt in class and what was in his books.”

When Sikhakhane asked Mtolo where he had learned accounting, he told her he was a qualified accountant.

“I almost fell off my chair when he said that. He said he had tried to get a job everywhere, but had no luck.”

Sikhakhane’s perception of Mtolo changed automatically from that day.

“When I first met him, I thought he was in high school. He looks very young and he had never said anything about being a qualified accountant.”

Sikhakhane found it difficult to sleep that night as she was restless thinking of how Mtolo turned from accountant to gardener. On Monday last week she posted the story on Facebook, hoping someone would give him his “big break”.

“I have made it my mission to try and help him find a job because he is a pleasant young man. Even before I knew about his qualification, he was diligent, humble and dedicated.”

She said Mtolo was dedicated and punctual to a fault.

“He would knock at my door at 06:55 to start working at 07:00. I would get annoyed because we are still asleep at that time on Saturdays”.

“That just shows that he takes care in what he does, no matter what it is. He deserves a chance in life. If someone can put aside their degree and do gardening, it tells you that that person is willing to work. This is a clear reason why Mtolo switched from accountant to gardener.

“Can you imagine what he will do with a real job?”

Sikhakhane said she could see that Mtolo had lost hope.

Mtolo said he did not bother to tell his employer that he was a qualified accountant because the qualification was not needed for the job he was applying for at the time.

The young accountant from Folweni said he acquired his accounting degree at Mangosuthu University of Technology, with financial help from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. He completed his B.Tech, with a bursary from the National Research Foundation. But because of the rate of unemployment in the country, he abandoned his degree certificate and turned from accountant to gardener.

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After graduating, he started applying for jobs to no avail. When he could not secure a job, he resorted to doing part-time jobs like gardening, painting, and welding. He made between R70 and R100 on a good day.

He is a father to a little girl and is one of five children. His mother Florence, 54, works as a cleaner at the Folweni Clinic. Nobody else in the family is employed.

“The money that I make is not enough to help my family. That is why I want a proper job, so that I can make a difference in my family,” said Mtolo.

This is very noble of Mtolo because not every young qualified accountant will stoop so low as to switch careers from accountant to gardener. Some would have preferred to make fast money through crooked means.