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Minenhle Makhathini

Nation builder

Victor Compton

Minenhle Makhathini has a head for business and a heart for nation building.

When he leaves school, he plans to get his Bcom – a very Makhathini thing to do (both his parents and three of his six siblings have Bcom degrees) – and use it to build a dynasty, “to give back”.

Makhathini Inc will start by growing his father’s logistics business and then build hospitals and schools in Esikhawini, KZN, which is where his dad is from.

In Zulu culture, there’s power in a surname, Minenhle explains. Specific values are attached to a surname. The Makhathini values include faith, a strong sense of self, accountability, and honour.

Minenhle, who was born in Johannesburg, doesn’t know if he’s related to the retired boxer Elijah “Tap Tap” Makhathini. But he hopes he is. “If I asked my dad, he would say we are. He makes up the best stories to keep us entertained.”

His dad, Thokozani, is “firm but full of life; he just ran the Chicago Marathon in sub three hours”. His mom, Hlengiwe, who works in corporate finance “is the same: living life to the fullest and committed to our happiness”.

Minenhle says that being one of seven children has taught him strong people skills, how to communicate well and the importance of being considerate of others. No doubt, these are some of the traits that make him a popular, much-loved boy in the Hilton College community.

Recently appointed leader of the community portfolio for 2023, Minenhle embodies Hilton College’s values of humility, compassion, sensitivity and service.

For him, humility is restrained power. “As a senior, humility is not stepping on the younger ones. It’s earning respect rather than enforcing it; talking to the younger boys because you know how it feels to cry the first night at boarding school.”

He believes in using his privilege for good, giving to those who have less, and in building the “rainbow nation”.

He says the ideal of a rainbow nation isn’t dead, even if it’s not much talked about anymore. “Since democracy in SA, inequality has increased [such that] people have lost hope.  When we have hope, we aren’t bound by our status in society.”

Minenhle has high hopes for South Africa. And equally big plans. Watch this boy.