‘My mother broke down in tears when she saw me begging for a job on the streets’

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Momelezi Sifumba with a placard asking for a job on the streets of Pretoria. Photo: Supplied
Momelezi Sifumba with a placard asking for a job on the streets of Pretoria. Photo: Supplied


When Momelezi Sifumba stood at a busy roadside in Pretoria with a placard that read: “Help me find a job”, little did he know that three days later his wishes would come true.

Sifumba (27) was offered an internship by ABB, a multinational pioneering technology leader in electrification. His luck changed thanks to Makwande Gcora, who took a photo of Sifumba and posted it on LinkedIn.

The post caught the attention of Graham Abrahams, ABB senior vice president of electrification. Sifumba works with Abrahams directly.

The determined young man from the Eastern Cape graduated with a B-Tech in electrical engineering specialising in power systems from the Tshwane University of Technology this year. He had struggled to find a job since he completed his first qualification in 2016.

READ: Graduation photo contracts under scrutiny 

“I decided to go back to school in 2020 after I was unemployed for almost three years when I completed a national diploma in electrical engineering from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology,” he said.

Despite applying for countless jobs, he was unable to find employment in his chosen field. “Despite the constant rejection, I still had a hunger for success, knowing all I needed was an opportunity to prove myself,” said Sifumba.

It was this determination, self belief and the hunger succeed that pushed him to swallow his pride and stand on the street in Pretoria with a placard.

Sifumba said:

Staying under someone’s roof with nothing to offer is not easy. At that time, I felt that I had tried the typical ways of looking for a job, but my voice was not being heard. I had to do something different.

READ: Not even Covid-19 could deter this 25-year-old from getting his PhD 

It was a bitter pill to swallow for his parents who had invested so much in his education. “My mother broke down in tears when she saw my picture standing on the side of the road asking for help because the whole world and the community back at home could see that her son was struggling to make ends meet.”

After his picture was posted on LinkedIn, Momelezi Sifumba was offered a graduate internship in the Electrification Business Area at ABB. Photo: Supplied

Gcora was travelling from Pretoria to Johannesburg when he saw Sifumba and asked to take a picture of him to try and assist with his job hunting.

Gcora, who is a chemical engineer, was unemployed for two years after completing his studies. It was this that this ignited his passion to empower the youth through mentoring and training, leading him to establish Makwande Chemicals Recruitment Agency.

“Sifumba finally got back to me to tell me he had been recruited as a graduate apprentice at ABB. I was happy to hear such good news and being able to play a part in changing someone’s life for the better.”

READ: Financial aid schemes hinder graduates’ job search 

Youth development is everyone’s responsibility, said Abrahams, who added that businesses have a responsibility to help develop the country’s young people.

Abrahams said:

Sifumba has overcome many challenges to obtain his education, and now with ABB we will ensure that he can complete the practical experience to qualify fully as an engineer. I look forward to seeing how he embraces this opportunity and will follow his development and career closely.

The training provided by ABB is hands-on and will see Sifumba rotate through various departments and activities to ensure his practical experience is well-rounded.

To other young graduates seeking employment, Sifumba said: “Don’t give up because somethings in life do not come easy. You should be willing to go out there and show an eagerness [to learn] because you never know who is watching.”

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