From child soldier to one-armed stitch-master

2017-01-28 20:11
FILE: Moussa, aged 17, having served 4 years in various armed groups before joining the Seleka rebels, sits in the Italian NGO Coopi reception centre for child soldiers in Bangui. (Xavier Bourgois, AFP)

FILE: Moussa, aged 17, having served 4 years in various armed groups before joining the Seleka rebels, sits in the Italian NGO Coopi reception centre for child soldiers in Bangui. (Xavier Bourgois, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Child soldier turned SA's top barista - José Vilandy shares his story

2015-05-07 11:49

TRUTH Coffee's José Vilandy is one of the country's top baristas. He talks to us about his painful childhood as a child soldier in Angola. WATCH

Acornhoek - A former child soldier who lost an arm at the age of 15 while fighting in Mozambique’s civil war, has sewed his way to a better income and now dreams of creating more jobs for the unemployed.

Carlos Nyabanga, 47, who lives in a village outside Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, makes and sells clothes and uniforms for schools and churches and repairs sewing machines. 

“I lost my parents, my arm and my childhood during the war, but I didn’t give up on life. I told myself that I still had one arm and two legs,” he says.

When the 16-year civil war ended in 1992, Nyabanga was one of the 25 498 officially demobilised soldiers who were younger than 18 when recruited. 

Manual sewing machine

He came to South Africa in 1993. Six years later, he was given citizenship.

“I worked on the farms for many years, but was not happy with the meagre wages and the lack of job security. I quit the job because I yearned for a better life,” he says.

He used his savings to buy a manual sewing machine and painstakingly taught himself to sew, using his right foot to spin the device.

Today, the married father of four, who works from a rented apartment, uses an electric sewing machine and makes around R10 000 a month.

“I am happy with my life. I have a roof over my head and I am able to buy food for my children.”

Nyabanga’s dream is to register a formal business and create jobs for unemployed people.

Read more on:    polokwane

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Partner Content
What all investors should know about index investing

Index-linked investments are growing fast in popularity globally, and are growing in size and complexity too.

Partner Content
How data is changing investments

Technological disruption is rife in many spheres of business and given the quantity of data available, it’s no surprise that the way in which asset managers work is also changing fast.


Cute pet pictures can improve your relationship!

It’s true! A new study shows animal pics can bring back the spark.



7 weirdly awesome pets you can own
Pack theory: fact or fiction?
Perfect dog-walking 1: Why dogs pull on the lead
SA stats: The role of pets in families
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.