Thapelo Molaudzi, born and raised in Alexandra in Johannesburg obtained a National Diploma in Civil Engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), is currently studying for his Advanced Diploma and hoping to do his Master’s degree in Civil Engineering.

He remembers developing an interest in becoming an engineer in matric. However, he felt confused because he was not exposed to much technology at the time. Then, all the matrics in the township were invited to a career expo that changed things. Thapelo attended thinking that he would be an electrical engineer, but that was only until civil engineering volunteers told them to “come to civils as it covers almost everything in our everyday living”! And the cherry on top was that he had been given a copy of the ‘Civil Engineering’ magazine. Getting home he could only say “Wow!” as the magazine opened his eyes about what civil engineering actually included. He also read about the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) events and the student chapters. He decided to follow this career and he also wanted to be in a chapter like those students. Thapelo was the CPUT SAICE Deputy Chairperson for two consecutive years!

He explained, “The South African Institution of Civil Engineering is the industry body for civil engineering professionals in South Africa. The aim is to promote growth and sustainability in the industry. Through their divisions, branches and committees, they aim to advance professional knowledge and improve the practice of civil engineering in South Africa, their purpose is to provide members with opportunities for professional development through continued learning opportunities.” 

Thapelo continued, “Because of SAICE I went to study civil engineering at CPUT and joined   the Student Chapter where I became the events coordinator and then Deputy Chairperson. Different trips were organised for the students to various types of sites under construction, as well as to consulting companies, where vacation work for students was negotiated. Though SAICE I worked for three construction companies during vacations which exposed me to the industry.

Covid-19 caused hardship for students and graduates so much so that many students don’t see a future for the profession. However, SAICE and civil engineering took me out of the township to study civil engineering!”

Thapelo stated, “Government and politics are failing the industry as they are disqualifying the adequately qualified! The Minister of Water and Sanitation imported Cuban engineers instead of using the jobless, local, adequately qualified civil engineering practitioners!” Fortunately the political party, the SA Action leader, Herman Mashaba said, “Our government has failed to maintain, repair and renew the infrastructure in South Africa, creating an infrastructure crisis! In the City of Joburg, when I became Mayor in 2016, there was a R177 billion unfunded infrastructure backlog!” Mashaba emphasised, “Countrywide it is a feature of tenders being seen as the ringing of the dinner bell for corrupt ANC cadres.”


Thapelo said that they as future SAICE leaders should do something about this situation. He explained that coming from a township his heart is not at peace because the roads are damaged and he is dreaming about asking government to employ young engineering graduates, like himself, to repair these roads so as to inspire the younger generation of the black community to see him then coming back as a success.”

He concluded, “Government has failed us, but if we are the present, we need to bring about change so that the future is not failed by us! The past has failed us; we are the present that needs to fight for the future!”


Thapelo Molaudzi is technician and student at the at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and volunteer at SAICE Young Members.

(The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the authors and not any organisation(s) the individuals are affiliated to).

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