From car scraps to China

Premier Sefora ‘Sisi’ Ntombela and Obakeng Thetele. Photo: Supplied

Bloemfontein’s own Obakeng Thetele, who caught the nation’s attention with his car innovation from scrap material, is heading to China for further training.

Thetele (20) was brought to instant ‘fame’ on national media after being seen using old iron sheets and other scrap material to build a car from scratch. He caught the attention of the Premier of the Free State, Sefora Ntombela, who then convinced a Chinese delegation, led by the Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China, Zhongdong, to give Thetele an opportunity.

The meeting was held in Johannesburg on Friday 13 January.

General Manager of Haval Motors South Africa, Kevin Lee, said he would love nothing more than a meeting with Thetele, whose passion for cars, by his own admission, borders on obsession. Lee further said they will invite Thetele to visit their plant in China so that he gets first-hand experience on the process of manufacturing a car.

Thetele meanwhile said he would welcome the opportunity to learn first-hand from professionals and a trip to China would be the icing on the cake.

“I am humbled that my work, through the efforts of Mme Ntombela, has been recognised by industry giants such as Haval. I am truly appreciative for her efforts in opening doors for me to advance my career. Given the opportunity, I will not let her down and will work hard to make my family proud,” Thetele said.

“It is through the empowerment of bright sparks such as Obakeng Thetele that we can move our province forward and build the Free State we want,” said Ntombela.

If he can make a car from scrap, imagine what he can achieve in a professional environment that Haval will provide. We are proud of him and have an absolute conviction that he will achieve great things,” Ntombela said.

Compiled by Bonolo Moloi