Meet Soweto’s finest, young female mechanic

Hlobiso Modise, 24, a specialist Mercedes-Benz mechanic from Orlando East, Soweto. Picture: Timothy Bernard Independent Newspapers

Hlobiso Modise, 24, a specialist Mercedes-Benz mechanic from Orlando East, Soweto. Picture: Timothy Bernard Independent Newspapers

Published May 28, 2024


It is not every day that a 24-year-old N5 mechanical engineering dynamite becomes a car mechanic, let alone a specialist Mercedes- Benz mechanic, right in the hustle and bustle of the oldest Soweto township – Orlando East.

Hlobiso Modise initially wanted to be a doctor. After numerous university rejection letters, she turned her sight on becoming a car doctor instead.

The Diepkloof dynamite, who after realising that theory was not making sense even though she was doing well in her studies, told her lecturers that instead of spending the whole week in class, she would rather spend two days under the bonnet with a mechanic in order to gain the much-needed practical skills needed to succeed in the industry. They agreed.

This resulted in her gaining practical skills that gave her an opportunity to become a specialist mechanic, dealing only with the German-inspired machine – Mercedes-Benz.

More than six months in the field, the woman in a male-dominated field is turning heads because of her passion for the trade.

“Well, I wanted to be a doctor at first. But after numerous rejection letters, I decided to get into mechanical engineering through the South Western Gauteng College.

“I strongly believe that I did not choose this profession; it chose me. This is even though, at first, I did not know what was going on and I did not even know what a gasket was. However, I took it upon myself to suggest to my lecture that instead of spending the whole week in lectures, rather take two days to learn practically, about mechanical engineering. I then approached a local mechanic, and the rest as they say, is history,” she said.

Even though there were many difficulties in getting to where she is today, she is grateful to her bosses and colleagues at one of Soweto’s finest Mercedes-Benz mechanical workshops in Soweto, the Stephen Auto Clinic Orlando East.

“It has not been easy, but without the support and encouragement from my bosses, my colleagues and the local mechanic who helped me gain skills and knowledge to practically get under the bonnet and learn the basics, I would not be here.”

The 24-year-old bright spark looks forward to furthering her studies and, eventually, opening her own workshop.

“Well, my future plans include opening my own workshop and employing, young female mechanics as time is not on our side as women. There is much to do and explore as I want more and more young women to realise that it is possible and if you put you mind to t, like I have done, it is possible.”

Modise, who is the youngest female in her 10-member family unit, said the challenges of growing up in a big family has taught her to be loving, kind and responsible.

“Eating a pizza on my own and just enjoying life is something I am not used to. Being part of a big family teaches you that you are not alone and you are part of other people.

“I am proud of my upbringing in spite of the challenges. I love also that like my friends, my family are my biggest cheerleaders, much like my bosses and my colleagues.”