2011/01/14 - Hard work pays off as ArcelorMittal South Africa offers star student a R400 000 bursary to study Chemical engineering

In line with its commitment to help South Africa transform its future, ArcelorMittal South Africa has granted Matimba Mabonda a bursary to pursue his dream of studying for a degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT) this year.

Mabonda achieved six distinctions in Xitsonga, Mathematics, Physical Science, Engineering Graphics, Civil Technology and Life Orientation and a B symbol for English in the 2010 Matric exams studied at the Altmont Technical College in Protea South, Soweto.

The daily commute from his home in the informal settlement of Finetown in Grasmere, South of Johannesburg by train was not a deterrent for this unassumingly confident, yet humble 18 year old. During his Matric year, his day would start at 04h30 in the morning when he boarded a train at Grasmere Station, a stone throw from his home. He would then get off at Midway Station in Soweto and walk 7 kilometres to the school where he would study before classes started. He spent his afternoons studying with classmates until 20h00 at night before taking the late train home. Mabonda comes from an impoverished family, sharing a one room shack with his unemployed parents, and younger brother.

Mabonda says his interest in Chemical Engineering was sparked by a visit he undertook at a leading chemical company in Sasolburg. In his typical can-do spirit he woke one morning and got into a taxi to Sasolburg and was taken on a tour of the chemical plant. “From that day onwards, my mind was set on becoming a Chemical Engineer”, he says enthusiastically. He says the ‘burner’, the long chimney like structure emitting a plume of fire at the plant was his inspiration. “I would think about the ‘burner’ whilst studying and reassure myself that I was working to be part of that mystical and interesting world of engineers”.

Lack of funds nearly cut short his dream. ArcelorMittal South Africa learnt of Mabonda’s plight through a local newspaper and decided to offer him a comprehensive bursary.

Themba Nkosi, General Manager for Human Resource at ArcelorMittal South Africa says Mabonda’s attitude and resilience is rare in today’s youth.

“Mabonda comes from a very challenging social background, but he still managed to achieve such good results. He is the kind of person ArcelorMittal would like to have in its employ - a person who challenges daily hurdles to achieve greatness,” says Nkosi.

ArcelorMittal will cover the full cost of Mabonda’s studies at UCT to the tune of R400 000 over four years. This will include tuition and boarding fees, laptop, books, travel and living allowance.

His bursary is one of the 35 that ArcelorMittal South Africa will be offering to new  University candidates this year alone. Mabonda will also become one of the company’s current 120 engineering bursary holders at Universities who have access to a mentoring programme aimed at helping them navigate their studies and provide support in order to ensure success. This will include access to the company’s engineers at its Saldanha plant, in Cape Town’s West Coast for further support.

“I still do not believe that such a big company has decided to provide a comprehensive bursary. It just shows that if you work hard and believe in yourself, God will make sure that your dreams come true,” says Mabonda.

“I know that the next four years are going to require me to work even harder. I am up for the challenge!”


Note to Editors:

ArcelorMittal has 120 students on its bursary programme in various universities throughout South Africa. About R10million is spent on this programme every year.

ArcelorMittal South Africa has a comprehensive pipeline provision programme which addresses the skills required by the business. At the end of 2010 the pipeline programme had 3221 learners spread over different categories. Many of these categories such as the “apprentice” training pipeline are national leaders in the field and considered the benchmark for the international ArcelorMittal group.

Most of the learners in the pipeline are studying engineering related disciplines but provision is made for non engineering disciplines such as internships for staff division skills, production related skills and supervisor programmes. The main categories covered within the pipeline apart from the training of ArcelorMittal South Africa employees are as follows:

  • Engineers

  • Technicians

  • Artisans

  • Production employees

  • Graduates for staff divisions

  • Supervisors


For more information contact:

Themba Hlengani: Corporate Communications Manager – ArcelorMittal South Africa

083 440 0158 or 016 889 2425