Emelia Motsai
2 minute read
9 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Neighbours tell of humble Big Brother

Emelia Motsai

Neighbours of Big Brother Mzansi winner Mandla Hlatshwayo, who have seen him build his life from nothing to being a millionaire, are eagerly waiting for their small-town hero to return home.

Ouma Mthimkhulu holds a poster of Big Brother Mzanzi winner, Mandla Hlatshwayo, 07 April 2014, in Sebokeng, near Vanderbijlpark. Hlatshwayo who runs a spaza shop in the area has been well celebrated by family and community members. Picture: Alaister Russell

Twenty-four-year old Hlatshwayo from Sebokeng pocketed R1 million when he won Big Brother on Sunday – and his neighbours can’t wait to celebrate with him.

His next-door neighbour, Mpho Maliehe, said people from all over the township streamed to his home on Sunday after he was announced the winner.

“Even though there was no one there, we sang and danced. We even had fireworks,” she said.

Maliehe had been surprised to see her neighbour on TV. “He told my little sister he was going to look for work. We were shocked to see him on TV.”

A car with supportive messages of the Big Brother Mzanzi winner, Mandla Hlatshwayo is pictured, 07 April 2014, in Sebokeng, near Vanderbijlpark. Hlatshwayo who runs a spaza shop in the area has been well celebrated by family and community members. Picture: Alaister Russell

A car with supportive messages of the Big Brother Mzanzi winner, Mandla Hlatshwayo is pictured, 07 April 2014, in Sebokeng, near Vanderbijlpark. Hlatshwayo who runs a spaza shop in the area has been well celebrated by family and community members. Picture: Alaister Russell

Ouma Mthimkhulu, whose house is opposite Hlatshwayo’s, said even though she did not have a lot of money, she had often voted two or three times a day for him.

“He grew up in front of me and is a kind and lovely boy.” To Mthimkhulu and others in the neighbourhood, Hlatshwayo’s kindness had come through, mainly in the way he did business.

Hlatshwayo had started selling sweets and snacks on a table outside his house when he finished high school. He also went to schools nearby during lunch breaks to sell to pupils. Later on, he started selling vegetables too. “He would go door-to-door on weekends selling his vegetables,” Mthimkhulu said.

His hard work paid off and he was able to build a small spaza shop behind his mother’s house – an unpainted block of about 10 by five metres. Hlatshwayo shares the house with his mother and two sisters.

But it was not his determination that won his neighbours’ hearts.

“If you didn’t have money to pay on the spot he would give you what you wanted on credit – and he would never chase you around if you could not pay him. He has so much respect for his elders,” said Mthimkhulu.