Meet Lee – the local leather man

2017-04-26 06:02
 Photo: tania sandbergAshley Kuzwayo (left) and Lee Gehehi at Lee’s Leather Works.

Photo: tania sandbergAshley Kuzwayo (left) and Lee Gehehi at Lee’s Leather Works.

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THEY say every town needs a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker… I would like to add to that list a leather shoe fixer.

As a journalist I am always on my feet and heavy on shoes, and was it not for Lee Gehehi, I would have to go barefoot.

Gehehi fixed my same pair of shoes a couple of times, before I move the next pair. He has replaced the Velcro on my children’s school shoes and the zips of countless handbags, that are so badly made these days.

He had also fixed countless leather belts and leather jackets since we first came to town. There are few who have his skill and humility when it comes to business.

Gehehi immigrated to South Africa in 1992 and started his business, Lee’s Leather Works in Amanzimtoti in 1996.

The business is celebrating its 21st year at the same place it was started, in the Amanzimtoti CBD, next to the car wash, opposite the post office).

Gehehi has two secrets to success, the first is “be passionate about what you do” and the second ”mind the way in which you speak to your customers”.

“It is all about respect, don’t ever undermine respect,” he says.

The leather expert said he fixes anything from shoes to car seats, car canopies and zips.

The fact that his business has grown, but he has remained at the same premises, makes him affordable and easy to find.

Growth came in the form of a new business partner and Ashley Kuzwayo has been his business partner for many years.

“He is South African and I consider him family. I am very happy with my business and where it is. I am well known and when I move from here, it means God called,” Gehehi said. Gehehi’s other passion is farming. He rents a house in Toti and last year did well with his chickens and vegetables.

“This year has simply been too busy,” he added.

He also loves reading magazines and newspapers, with Drum being his favourite.

“I like listening to gospel a lot. I love having pap and meat or fish, which I buy,” he said.

According to Gehehi, life is good, and he thanks the community for all the support through the years.

“It is because of them that I am still here.”

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