LIGHT AT THE END OF THE LOAD-SHEDDING TUNNEL

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By Precious Mupenzi

  • A trio from Lavender Hill, Western Cape, tackles South Africa’s load-shedding, cable theft, and shack fire issues.
  • Lavender Hill’s crime-ridden backdrop highlights the urgency, with a significant rise in murders. Vincent Mosebe, Donovan Pedza, and Leandro Antonio’s Mosebe Enterprise introduce “Tshepo,” a portable power device, aiming to save lives and homes.
  • Their initiative offers hope and practical solutions to their community’s pressing challenges.

Three young men from Lavender Hill in the Western Cape are determined to solve the country’s load-shedding, cable theft problems, and the devastation of human loss due to shack fires.

Lavender Hill is a community nestled 17 kilometres away from Cape Town notorious for gangsterism, drugs, and violent crimes.

The most recent crime statistics, encompassing the period from July to September 2023 of the 2023/24 financial year, unveiled an alarming 18.6% surge in murder cases within the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP). LEAP operates in various regions, including Delf, Gugulethu, Harare, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Mfuleni, Phillipi East, Samora Machel, and Nyanga. Additionally, areas such as Lavender Hills, Bishop Lavis, and Atlantis are identified as other high-crime zones.

It is widely acknowledged, and further corroborated by a plea from Ms. Elizabeth Sukers, an ACDP Member of Parliament, to Minister Lindiwe Zulu, that the Lavender Hill community requires urgent assistance. Ms. Sukers highlighted the dire situation where essential services fail to reach the community due to concerns among government officials for their safety.

It is these social ills that motivated Vincent Mosebe (25), Donovan Pedza (27), and Leandro Antonio (24) to start Mosebe Enterprise and develop their portable power device, “Tshepo”, meaning hope, to save lives and livelihoods. The trio has borne witness to numerous incidents of wild and shack fires in the Western Cape. Their unwavering commitment and fervor is evident in their meticulous documentation of the impact of these fires on affected individuals and communities.

“14 Percent of the country’s population lives in informal settlements. Recently we have had fires in the Western Cape displacing families, leaving devastation and hopelessness,” said Mosebe emphasising the importance of their device.

“Growing up, there were frequent occurrences of shack fires, resulting in loss of lives and livelihoods. It motivated us to devise a solution for one of South Africa’s primary challenges. On average, we witnessed approximately 10 shack fires a day. Utilizing discarded materials, we refurbished them to create our device, offering an affordable and renewable energy solution,” explained founder Vincent Mosebe.

With 14 percent of the country’s population residing in shacks susceptible to such tragedies, recent fires at informal settlements in Masiphumelele, Philippi, and Khayelitsha have left communities displaced and casualties in their wake.

However, for Mosebe Enterprise owners, the future looks even brighter and nothing can stop them.

Mosebe showcased their device to Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu during her visit to the Sozo Foundation, a local NPO situated in the Cape Flats. The foundation is dedicated to providing youth development programs, with a focus on individuals who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET).

Mosebe Enterprise operates within the premises of the Sozo Foundation, which receives support from the National Development Agency, an entity under the Department of Social Development. The Sozo Foundation serves as a beacon of hope, with a dedicated team committed to creating pathways to employment through education, skill development, and social enterprise initiatives. Their focus is on supporting young people who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET), to break generational cycles of poverty.

The Minister was visiting NPO as part of her outreach programmes leading up to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) focusing on teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence, youth, women, and persons with disabilities in and around the country.

“The reason there are shack fires every day is because of the shortage of energy which leads people to use alternative sources of energy including paraffin lights, gas stoves, firewood, and candles. Contributing factors to shack fires are negligence, smoking, and the fact that shacks are densely populated with dwellings right up against each other. The shacks are also made up of highly flammable materials,” said Donovan Pedza, Mosebe Enterprise’s Marketing Director.

Pedza said they were trying not only to generate power but also save lives and conserve the environment.

“The wide spread of fire causes dangers to human life and vegetation and wildlife, fire consumes the nutrients on topsoil. Upstairs we have a startup business that is using our units so we are also trying to empower youth to start something instead of just sitting on corners waiting for government handouts.”

The product gives you light and allows you to charge two devices. It comes with a solar panel so it works in the most remote areas, there is also a bigger version for those requiring more power.

“Having units like this at home can help cut costs when it comes to energy bills. This is a solution from us to our people, we’re making it from scratch. We are also tackling cable theft. Tsepho offers a sustainable, affordable, and eco-friendly power solution. With features like multiple ports, a powerful battery, and solar compatibility, Tsepho is not just a device, it’s a catalyst for change,” said Leandro Antonio, also a Marketing Director of Mosebe Enterprise.

The National Development Agency has approved a development grant of R220,000 to support the Sozo Foundation in enhancing productivity and business development for five beneficiaries of their skills development and social enterprise programmes. Among these beneficiaries is Mosebe Enterprise, which receives support from the Sozo Foundation.

Accompanying the Minister on her visit to the Sozo Foundation were Ardiel Soeker, the Western Cape Provincial Manager of the NDA, and Chief Livhuwani Matsila, the Deputy Chairperson of the NDA Board.

“Minister Zulu’s warm encouragement and genuine interest in our portable power station, “Tshepo,” set the tone for a dialogue that went beyond conventional discussions. Chief Matsila’s eagerness to work with us and witness our ideas come to fruition was truly amazing. His commitment to the cause aligned seamlessly with our mission, fuelling our determination to make a positive difference,” said the three business owners during the Minister’s visit.

The young men shared that they provided “Tshepo” to small businesses in Town Two, Khayelitsha, free of charge. During the height of the Covid pandemic, these businesses were unable to operate due to stolen cables, leaving them without electricity. By providing “Tshepo,” they enabled these businesses to continue providing for their families.

The device is solar-powered and can produce electricity for up to three hours when fully charged. For further inquiries, Mosebe can be contacted at 068 569 4350, and their device is priced at R1500.

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