Mabilu ploughing back
Benson Ntlemo
HELPING HAND: David Mabilu with some of the children he has 'adopted' from Tshidimbini village showing off their gifts. The businessman has started a charity to help the poor. On Friday he spent R500,000 buying groceries and school uniforms for poor children in Tshidimbini village outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo.

PROPERTY mogul David Mabilu, has just spent another R500,000 on poor kids from his rural village.

On Friday he spent R500,000 buying groceries and school uniforms for poor children in Tshidimbini village outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo.

"This is the same amount of money I spent last year in this area and will spend again over the next few years," Mabilu said.

The tycoon has, through his David Mabilu Foundation, adopted 38 children from poor families at Tshidimbini and treats them like his own.

"I buy them groceries every month, pay for their school fees and uniforms. I have appointed mentors to ensure that their poverty does not affect them adversely," Mabilu said.

"I will take care of them until they finish their tertiary studies."

Friday's ceremony, which was attended by about 500 people, saw Mabilu being praised by local children, chiefs and principals.

The tycoon told the gathering how he was brought up by his sister, Selinah, under difficult conditions after the death of their mother in 1993.

He said he grew up in a four-roomed matchbox house in Soweto, which he shared with his parents, five siblings, three uncles and their wives.

His family was excited when his mother was later employed as a cleaner at the Jeppe Post Office in Johannesburg, but this happiness was short-lived when she died a few months after her employment.

He said he had to do part-time jobs to supplement the family income.

Mabilu said since entering into business he had seen extreme poverty first-hand. In many instances he said he had extended a helping hand to homeless people asking for shelter.

He has also donated many houses, mainly in Limpopo and Gauteng, the latest being a donation of 20 houses to families affected by a tornado that hit in Duduza on the Gauteng's East Rand.

On Friday, he described his own background to show the children that everything is possible in life. He said though his parents loved education, they could not afford to give him any money for food at school.

"I sold apples in Kliptown (Soweto) at a young age so I could earn some money to use at school."

He said he also worked as a kitchen boy in Bedfordview, east of Joburg, making tea, beds and doing gardening for a white couple during school holidays.

He said he also sold ice cream to get money for his schooling.

That was before he came to Tshidimbini to complete high school after his parents realised that he was dabbling in politics. His involvement was affecting his education. He moved from Soweto after passing his Standard 8 (Grade 10) and completed his matric at Tshidimbini High in Venda.

Mabilu urged the youth not to use poverty as an excuse to drop out of school.

Local principal Aaron Mammburu said: "With a man who is the friend of the poor, we as teachers must complement his work by working hard for the realisation of his dreams to develop poor kids into important members of the community in future".