From housewife to mechanic, Magogo is taking life by the spanner.
From the outside, Gog’Mamakie Valemina Tshabalala’s home looks like just another home in Tembisa but as soon as you enter the yard you are met by a great surprise – a woman-owned mechanic workshop.
Magogo, as she is affectionately known by her customers, has been working as a mechanic for over 40 years. “I was my husband’s ‘Spanner Boy’ (assistant mechanic) when he would work on cars over the weekend. You see, my husband was employed as a mechanic in Isando during the week while I was a housewife,” she explains. Concerned that her husband was not getting enough rest, Magogo suggested they open their own workshop and the rest is history. “I learned how to fix a car from watching my husband do it. When he needed me to hand him a spanner, help him carry an engine or fit a gearbox, I would jump in and do it” she narrates. The area Magogo excelled in was pressing bearings, pistons and side shafts.
Magogo’s work plays a huge role in ‘Driving Our Nation Forward’ because the majority of her customers are Taxipreneurs. “Most of my customers are taxi owners who send their drivers to me whenever their taxis need a fix,” she says. From how sparkling clean her workshop is, you can tell Magogo wants nothing but the best for it, so the fact that she gets her parts from SA Taxi Auto Parts, or ‘SA’ as Magogo affectionately calls it, makes us incredibly proud. “When my customers need parts, I send them to SA [Taxi Auto Parts] because they have quality parts. Whenever we fit their parts in a customer’s taxi, they last a long while before the customer returns” she explains.
At age 75, Magogo can no longer carry heavy engines and gearboxes but her biggest wish is for her workshop to grow from strength to strength. To ensure that it happens she has passed on the spanner to her daughter Joyce, with who she has been working for 15 years. “I was 25 when I started working as a mechanic’s assistant. I would see my parents working and I decided to try my hand at it.” Joyce explains.
She says “Magogo insisted that she was the only one who would press the pistons but one day when Magogo was not home a customer came in and there was no way I was going to turn them back so I pressed the pistons and that’s how I started working.”
Now Joyce can do everything from jacking up the taxi to removing whatever part of it she needs to repair and fitting it back in place thereafter. “I love this work so much that I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty” she beams. Joyce is very grateful to her mother for teaching her the trade because it has given her an income. Even with work being scarce in South Africa she can provide for her family and has even passed the skill down to her own children. Her wish is to see more women doing this line of work. “They must not think this work is only reserved for men, there is no such thing. Women must slide under cars and make their own money,” she concludes.
Magogo’s workshop did not only bring relief to her overworked husband but also ensured that she can provide for her family for generations to come. At SA Taxi, we say halala Magogo and Joyce. Thank you for Driving Our Nation Forward.