Pig farmer becomes one of KZN’s top entrepreneurs

2019-03-08 14:49
Thobile Mpontshane (Photo: Zama Chutshela)

Thobile Mpontshane (Photo: Zama Chutshela)

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

She has a strong bond with her animals – as soon as she enters their pen they wiggle their little pink tails. You can tell they recognise her by their soft grunts and happy squeals.

Being knee-deep in mud and surrounded by swine isn’t the life Thobile Mpontshane expected for herself. In fact, it’s worlds away from the corporate ladder the tourism graduate planned on climbing. 

But the young woman is fast becoming one of the top farmers and pig breeders in South Africa.

Last year Thobile (30) won the female farmer entrepreneur award at the Female Entrepreneur Awards, which earned her R250 000 from the Kwa-Zulu-Natal department of agriculture.

She also won the top entrepreneur: commercial award, bagging R125 000 in prize money, and the KZN MEC’s special award of R50 000.

Thobile, who was born and raised in Jozini in KZN, tells DRUM she never imagined herself as a farmer, although her early years were spent working the land.

“My parents, Thandazile and Amos Mpontshane, taught [my four siblings and I] to plough the land,” she recalls.

“We ploughed and harvested maize, green peppers, bananas and other food. We’d sell the harvest to our neighbours.”

She got into farming thanks to her husband, Sipho Ngxongo, who passed away in 2015. He owned several sugar cane plantations across KZN and suggested she join his business, which she did.

Sipho taught her about farming and Thobile took over managing the plantations, but it wasn’t easy transitioning from her former job as a receptionist at an upmarket lodge.

She learnt the ropes of the administrative side of the business first, Thobile recalls, then Sipho took her to the fields. 

“We’d wake up early – by 3am we’d be in the fields – and we’d be there until 5pm,” she says.

“Eventually Sipho gave me a small plot to grow sugar cane and some vegetables. Because of my family background in farming I quickly grasped whatever my husband taught me and after four months he let me do the work by myself.”

She admits she knew nothing about pig farming when she started this business.

“The only advantage I had was the previous owner, Guy Williams, taught me everything.”


Join the conversation!

24.com 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

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 24.com 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.