I can win this!

Confident, cheeky and cheerful – that’s dreadlocked Idols hopeful Bongi Mthombeni, who believes he’ll take home the title.

‘‘I can’t even walk through a mall now without people stopping me. What will it be like when I win?’’ he asks teasingly.

But he isn’t arrogant – he’s too willing to laugh at himself.

The 23-year-old crooner knows the other contestants in the Idols house in Northcliff, Johannesburg, are also determined to win.

‘‘Things in the house run surprisingly smoothly despite all the egos. We have fun – of course we have arguments but it’s nothing hectic.’’

Older brother Veli introduced Bongi to music. ‘‘He learnt to play the keyboard from an old man at church and I learnt by watching him.’’

Bongi was exposed to various music styles in his teens while working at the Rand Show in 2004.

During lunch he’d stroll across to a nearby Yahama stall and tap on a keyboard. He was joined byDaniel Rautenbach (Afrikaans singer Jak de Priester’s guitarist) and Tokozani Ntuli on drums.

‘‘People would stop to watch us play and I was always late getting back to work,’’ Bongi recalls. ‘‘Daniel and Tokozani introduced me to a whole lot of music.’’

Now he plays keyboard for two bands, Lemongrass and the gospel orchestra TBA: The Revelation. Does he ever feel like giving up? ‘‘Music is all I can do, all I’m going to do,’’ he says.

Then he reveals quietly that he has a tactic to wow the audience and guarantee Idols victory.

‘‘I’m going to sing an Afrikaans song – a famous, well-loved song. I heard a version of the song by The Parlotones. I didn’t like it at all. The original is the classic version.’’

He volunteers at Siyazigabisa (Home of Hope) orphanage in Tembisa where he teaches kids to play drums, piano and guitar.