Being the daughter of a well-to-do lawyer, politician and businessman could be mistaken for leading an easy and comfortable life.
Tshepiso Phosa (27), the daughter of Mathews and Pinky Phosa, can tell you that being in her position does not exempt one from encountering tribulations such as rape, an abusive boyfriend, depression and even worse – suicidal thoughts.
“People don’t know that you still have to overcome a lot of life’s problems,” Phosa said.
Her parents, particularly her father, are prominent struggle heroes.
After democracy, Mathews became the first premier of Mpumalanga.
He also served as ANC treasurer-general; ran for presidency while juggling a number of businesses and his law firm, Mathews Phosa & Associates; and is a writer.
Pinky has been an MEC in various portfolios in Mpumalanga government and served as an MP.
City Press met up with Phosa and her publicist, Brenda Archdeacon, at Mugg & Bean in Mbombela, just before the launch of her new book Fuelling Futures: From Influence to Impact.
The book – which she co-authored with Timothy Maurice Webster, an author of four bestselling books on human and brand behaviour – details Phosa’s lowest points in her life and how she dusted herself off to conquer as a fuel station entrepreneur and the first woman to sit in the board of directors of iCollege Pumas, the Mbombela-based professional rugby team.
Not your typical how-to self-help book, Fuelling Futures is based on Phosa’s real-life story.
“Had I not faced different challenges, I would not have grown in various spheres of my life and I would not have been able to relate with various people who I have helped and are still helping with personal development,” she said.
The book goes into detail about how she survived rape and her experiences in an abusive relationship.
“I go into detail about how I was raped and how I was strangled and lost my voice for two months,” she said.
“We talk about transforming your pain into power. I lost my voice, but I could still write.”
Phosa’s life journey can aptly be summarised as entrepreneur and philanthropist.
She is not failing to shine her own light in the shadow of her colossal parents.
“Despite the fact that I’m from a political family background, I have my own independent life,” Phosa said.
“I’ve made wrong choices and mistakes, which have taught me the best lessons. I’m the woman that I am today because of those experiences. Most importantly, I’m human and God’s purpose for me is different,” she added.
Her father said he was impressed with his daughter because she was not afraid to venture into new things.
“I don’t want my children to be me… I want them to be themselves. In being themselves, I must identify their weak and strong points and propel those strong points,” Mathews said.
“She’s not afraid to start new things,” he said.
“I like that because it shows initiative that we as parents have to support.”
Phosa first cut her teeth in business when she invested in Brent Oil Filling Station, along the N4 in Mbombela in 2015.
She had worked at another filling station in Irene, Pretoria, during her university days.
Having run the station for three years, she sold it in 2018 after it had been renamed Milviforce Puma so that she could focus on a new business opportunity in the fuel wholesaling sector in southern Africa.
In the same year she was appointed iCollege Pumas director.
Phosa is also a director in her father’s law firm responsible for four portfolios; is an active board member of MobiGo Solutions, which specialises in top-end technological training material and facilities; and a director of Lowveld Coffee, which distributes and finances coffee machines.
Phosa believes that every child in South Africa deserves to be educated and protected.
In 2015 she adopted Bongumusa Community Care Base in Tekwane outside Mbombela, where she provides weekly food parcels, and the Woodhouse Community Care Base Centre orphanage in Mataffin.
Together the two orphanages house and feed 169 children.
She also volunteers at Curro Meridian School in Karino near Mbombela, where she established a programme to equip matriculants with life skills to prepare them for life after school.
“I believe that I have a deep responsibility to the family and country to take life seriously. We need to grow and build South Africa, not just financially, but through bringing hope to young professionals and building each other,” Phosa said.
She adds that she had to fight to be where she is.
“I have to fight hard to overcome… Regardless of your pains, you are capable of overcoming obstacles and not resorting to short cuts such as suicide.”
Fuelling Futures: From Influence to Impact is available on tshepisophosa.biz for preorders and will be available in stores at the end of July. The book will sell at R200 at retailers and R350 from couriers.