Deaf barista a hit with customers and staff at ANEW Hilton hotel

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Phumzile Mazibuko, who works at the Anew Hilton Hotel in Pietermaritzburg.
Phumzile Mazibuko, who works at the Anew Hilton Hotel in Pietermaritzburg.
Nash Narrandes

Meet Phumzile Mazibuko, a 35-year-old deaf barista who works at the ANEW Hilton hotel near Pietermaritzburg.

Mazibuko has become a favorite among guests at the hotel.

From working as a cashier, to finishing her barista course at Unisa and then joining ANEW Hilton hotel as a barista, Weekend Witness visited Mazibuko to speak to her about her journey, with the help of Nicky Bezuidenhout, a marketing and communications manager at eDeaf, which provides training and employment sevices to deaf communities.

The Ladysmith-born barista has been working at the hotel for four-and-a-half years and describes the communication as smooth sailing.

Staff learn basic signs 

“Customers are interested in learning sign language so the interaction with them at the hotel has been good.

“Same with the staff members here, we write notes to each other to communicate mainly but the staff also has an understanding of basic sign language which has been helpful,” said Mazibuko.

According to Mazibuko, she also teaches the staff basic signs during lunch break or tea time because just like the clients, they want to learn.

“We also have a sign language chart at my coffee station and we encourage customers when they come in to point to the board and they usually have a go at signing their coffee order to me,” said Mazibuko.

She has two children, a daughter and a son. Her son is also deaf.

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