To support his family, Steven Arendse was pushing trolleys for a supermarket six days a week. What his loved ones did not know was that he had a secret life by night – he was looking at how to fix cars online so he could improve his career prospects.
Jasmine Arnold, who often shops at Giant Hyper in Epping because she is in the party industry, had initially shared Arendse’s job success on Facebook, where it went viral. She said she had been inspired and got “goosebumps” from his story.
Arendse, 27, who put in his notice at Giant so that he can start his new job, says he pushed trolleys because he wanted to provide for his children.
“I didn’t care that people might look down on me. I was doing it for my girlfriend and my boys, who are six and one and a half years old.”
While grateful for his trolley job, the Mitchells Plain resident who dropped out of primary school aspired to do and be more.
Learning in the garden
He tried to study online but it never worked out because his maths was too low and he never got in.
“But what I did do was search every night on Google [on my cellphone], teaching myself how to do the things I am doing now, mechanical engineering stuff.”
He says he studied informally in private and his girlfriend, sister and mother were none the wiser.
“I was doing it outside. They thought I was working in the garden at night,” he chuckles.
Arendse said he went for an interview and managed to secure a fixed maintenance job at a car workshop in Stikland. He started this week.
“When I started the job, I told them straight, I was honest with them [about] how I learnt about this. They said, okay, we will give you a chance.”
He hopes to obtain his N2 through his new workplace sometime next year.
Inspire young people
Arendse had previously told the media that he studied for his N2 at night and obtained his qualification after his story went viral.
This had led to numerous offers from local and international people to assist him with resources and opportunities for further studies.
He apologised on Friday for lying about the qualification part of his story. He even changed his number in an attempt to avoid the rush of goodwill that was coming his way.
“The reason why I lied to you about my N2 papers was because I was also inspired by the story [I created and went viral] and also want to inspire a lot of young people out there,” he told News24 on Friday at his new place of employment.
“Where I came from, it’s a lot of gangsterism, lots of people don’t have food at night, poverty is very high.”
He said he felt bad and wanted to make things right, and is hoping to get his N2 at his new place of employment.
“I am sorry that I told you that I got my N2. I just want to make it right. To the people who offered to help me, I am truly sorry. I do want to try and improve my work and I want to get my N2.”