A government-run skills development programme is giving the youth a chance to grow their future in the hospitality industry.
A few months after burying his mother, Smangaliso Radebe was shot, spent time in hospital and was almost abandoned by family and close friends.
The 27-year-old from Zola in Soweto was living on borrowed time, hanging out with the wrong crowd and losing touch with loved ones.
Getting shot was his wake-up call and he decided to mend his ways and focus on his education.
He registered for a hospitality management course at the South West Gauteng College in 2013 and graduated in 2016.
He then did an internship at the college before joining the national Department of Tourism's National Food Safety Assurers Youth Training Programme.
Radebe and over 20 of his counterparts from the North West and about 140 from Gauteng recently graduated from the youth training programme.
"When we started, things were simple but as time went by, it started getting tougher. But with determination and the will to learn, we made it and it feels good to be recognised by your own government."
The graduation ceremony was officiated by Deputy Minister of Tourism Elizabeth Thabethe and MEC for Tourism in the North West Desbo Mohono.
Endorsed by Food and Beverage Seta, learners received accredited NQF level 2, 3 and 5 qualifications in practices related to the manufacturing, storage and processing of food in the hospitality industry.
In the 2017/2018 financial year, the Department of Tourism approved the training of 500 learners as Food Safety Assurers nationwide. The training programme consists of 30 percent theory and 70 percent practical training. Learners are placed at various hospitality establishments for experiential learning.
Radebe says he is thankful to the department for the opportunity to further his studies.
"Before my mother died she told me that she saw me as a graduate and I'm glad that I could amount to something in my life."
Radebe is currently doing a six-month internship at Glenburn Lodge in Muldersdrift.