WHILE other young boys played with toy cars, Siyakholwa Zazini was making paper planes and kites. And today the 21-year-old from Leaches Bay in East London, Eastern Cape, has a private pilot’s licence – and he is working hard to get his night-flying permit. Raised by his gogo Nora in a shack, Siyakholwa said he always knew that his destiny was to become a pilot. “All those kites and paper planes built up to where I am today. I used to draw planes and always fantasised about being in a cockpit.” Siyakholwa’s dream came true when he received a bursary from the Office of the Premier and the transport department to train as a pilot. This was after he repeated matric in 2015 to ensure his marks were high enough to qualify. Siyakholwa said growing up, his only meal of the day came from his school’s nutrition programme – but he never let anything get in the way of reaching his goal. “This is something I fought hard for all my life and I see myself flying a Boeing 737 one day,” he said. “My struggles were just to teach me life is not about your situation but being determined to reach your goals despite your background.” Siyakholwa said he applied to join the SADF and the SAPS, but he was rejected. His luck changed when he met Sipho Mangesi, a pilot who became his mentor. Siyakholwa himself is currently mentoring Sisipho Nofemele, who is studying for a private pilot’s licence. “My advice to others is to know that no one else will fight for your dreams. You just have to put your mind to it and brace yourself for everything that comes your way.”
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