IS EV­ERY­THING

CityPress - - Business - LE­SETJA MA­LOPE le­setja.ma­lope@city­press.co.za

Sit­ting in a sixth-floor board­room in a build­ing that is along one of the busiest roads in Sand­ton – with a view of the some of the most ex­pen­sive prop­er­ties on the con­ti­nent – this is where one of the best merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions lawyers on the con­ti­nent con­ducts busi­ness and plans to plot his grand plan to change and trans­form the coun­try’s le­gal fra­ter­nity for good.

In 2014, Peter Tshi­sevhe was rated the best merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions lawyer in Africa and one of the best in the world by the in­ter­na­tion­ally peer-re­viewed Best Lawyer’s In­ter­na­tional list­ing, in 2015 the As­so­ci­a­tion of Black Se­cu­ri­ties and In­vest­ment Pro­fes­sion­als named him the best cor­po­rate fi­nance lawyer in the coun­try.

The chair­per­son and co-founder of Tshi­sevhe Gwina Rat­shim­bi­lani In­cor­po­rated (TGR At­tor­neys), Tshi­sevhe’s story is one of rags to riches, but un­like many such tales, his was fu­elled by an un­usual am­bi­tion for the un­known and en­gi­neered by ex­po­sure.

“Ex­po­sure is ev­ery­thing.” This is a mantra Tshi­sevhe lives by and one that keeps his in­quis­i­tive mind flooded with am­bi­tious plans.

He ad­mits that be­ing from a very poor fam­ily of 11 sib­lings in the poverty-stricken vil­lage of Tshakhuma, he was only ex­posed to pro­fes­sions such as teach­ing and nurs­ing, but says he al­ways knew there was some­thing be­yond what he was ex­posed to.

“Even with­out be­ing ex­posed to doc­tors, I knew that as much as teach­ing was the ul­ti­mate, there were pro­fes­sions such as doc­tors be­yond teach­ing, and I knew that that per­son was more im­por­tant in terms of stature be­cause it seemed every­one went to them when they were sick. I knew there was more and be­yond and that’s where I wanted to be. I was not sure ex­actly where, just some­where higher,” he said of his am­bi­tions as a child.

Ab­ject poverty is some­thing Tshi­sevhe is very fa­mil­iar with. He owned his first pair of shoes when he was 16 years old.

“I have al­ways been of the view that the one way out of poverty is through ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

He fondly re­mem­bers the nick­name his mother gave him be­cause of his ex­cel­lence at school.

“She gave me the nick­name ‘Prin­ci­pal’ be­cause she saw me in that light and to her it was the high­est level, but I had other ideas,” he said.

Iron­i­cally, though he never had am­bi­tions of be­ing a teacher, Tshi­sevhe sub­se­quently had a 12year stint as a part-time lec­turer at his alma mater, the Uni­ver­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand (Wits).

While be­ing a teacher was never an op­tion for Tshi­sevhe grow­ing up, law was also not his first choice, but hav­ing wit­nessed the in­jus­tices of racism and trib­al­ism as a child, he found him­self drawn to the pro­fes­sion of law when later in life he found out about it from a friend.

Schooled at Lu­vhu­lani and Ra­luthaga pri­mary schools in the for­mer home­land of Venda, Tshi­sevhe speaks with pride as he rem­i­nisces about go­ing to school un­der a tree. He went on to ma­tric­u­late at Mavhungu An­dries High School, also in the area, be­fore head­ing south to Johannesburg where, be­fore en­rolling for his BProc de­gree, he had to up­grade his ma­tric re­sults at a pri­vate college.

At Wits he found the ex­po­sure he had been long­ing for, and as a dis­ci­plined vil­lage herd­boy, he man­aged to stay fo­cused on his stud­ies while also work­ing his way up from cleaner to cashier at a su­per­mar­ket chain store.

His tone changes and he flashes a smile when he talks about his stu­dent days at Wits. It’s an in­sti­tu­tion he holds very dear, af­ter all, his first le­gal job was at the Wits Law Clinic af­ter he was of­fered ar­ti­cles by two prom­i­nent lawyers – ex­ploita­tive of­fers he re­fused.

In the le­gal fra­ter­nity, he has earned a lot of re­spect but ad­mits trans­for­ma­tion is still a huge is­sue.

“We want to be a game-changer, a haven for black ex­cel­lence,” he says about TGR At­tor­neys, which he co­founded with San­danathi Gwina and Ma­todzi Rat­shim­bi­lani.

Speak­ing about the sec­tor’s cur­rent state with re­gard to brief­ing pat­terns that dis­ad­van­tage black lawyers, the SAA board mem­ber said gov­ern­ment must start prac­tis­ing what it preaches.

“Gov­ern­ment will talk rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and go on and hire a white com­pany to clean,” Tshi­sevhe said.

Be­ing one of the best com­mer­cial law brains in the coun­try, it’s easy to see why he has a good chance of plot­ting the change the le­gal sec­tor des­per­ately needs, and it’s a mis­sion he read­ily tack­les ev­ery day.

Peter Tshi­sevhe

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