Qualified, but unemployed

Liau Khoase studied while working to improve his chances of providing for his family, but a contested dismissal has left him without an income for the past 20 months.

Nothing is more difficult for a man than to depend on his wife financially, says Liau Khoase, who has spent more than a year looking for a job since being dismissed from a steel company in Vanderbijlpark in 2017.

Since then, his family has had to make do without his salary.

Khoase, 44, lives with his family in Vanderbijlpark. Originally from Qwaqwa in the Free State, he’s been in Gauteng since 1998.

Growing up with eight siblings, Khoase sold tripe in the neighbourhood so he could contribute towards household expenses.

“I grew up in a house where, if you wanted something, you had to wait your turn. We only got new clothes during Christmastime in December.”


With dreams of one day becoming a chemical engineer, Khoase began his schooling at Sedibeng Primary School and then went on to Phetha Higher Primary School before obtaining his matric certificate at Seroali Senior Secondary School in 1993.

Khoase had the opportunity to study at Tshiya Teachers College, but declined the offer because he knew that the financial situation at home was dire.

“In 1994, at the age of 19, I took a chance and went to the Vaal to look for a job, and my sister-in-law’s brother told me that a metal company was looking for students who did maths and science in their matric year.”

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Khoase applied at Iscor (now ArcelorMittal South Africa) and he started working on 28 February 1994. The company has confirmed that he was employed at ArcelorMittal until 2017.

“I started working as an operator until I was dismissed from the company in June [2017]. I was told that the reason for my dismissal was because I committed fraud by not logging in study leave. They had given me permission to go and study, so I am challenging the dismissal with the Steel Council.”


In an attempt to better his education, Khoase enrolled at the Vaal University of Technology in 2012 to study safety management and graduated in 2015. The following year, he registered to do a BTech in Business Administration. He graduated last year.

“I have been looking for a job since my dismissal. My wife, Makosi, is a public administrator at a high school and we have four daughters – seven, eight, 13 and 16.”

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Khoase says he was able to use his pension payout to finish building their home and paying off their vehicles.

“Life was tough, but my wife has a job. But it is still not easy for me as a man not to be working. There are levies to be paid, municipal services and the children have to go to school at the end of the day.”

The couple admit that they are behind on paying their children’s school fees.


“I am still the man of the house and my wife still respects me. I am looking for a job but I am not someone who will go out there and steal.

“It is depressing to look for a job with all these qualifications, especially when there are people out there working in municipalities with no qualifications.”

Letting out a deep breath, Khoase says he is hopeful that the matter at work will be resolved soon so that he can continue to provide for his family.

“My wife pays for the water and lights, petrol and groceries. It is a lot. I have hope that this will pass. Without hope, I am nothing.”

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