Community leader Lehlogonolo Letsoalo will now be known as “One Time” Letsoalo after his great-grandfather. Picture: James Mahlokwane
Community leader Lehlogonolo Letsoalo will now be known as “One Time” Letsoalo after his great-grandfather. Picture: James Mahlokwane

Atteridgeville commemorate life of business pioneer Johannes ’One Time’ Letsoalo

By James Mahlokwane Time of article published Oct 15, 2021

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Pretoria - Atteridgeville commemorated the life of its business pioneer Johannes Motshwane Letsoalo who was popularly known as “One Time” for doing something once and succeeding.

Makgoba royals and leaders of the Zion Christian Church descended on the township to commemorate the man who brought Atteridgeville its first filling station, founded the ZCC bursary fund and business forum.

The family felt it was not right that they had not commemorated the legacy of the legendary “One Time” after the local civic organisation honoured him and placed his name on a statue erected opposite the police station to celebrate the people who made the township what it is today.

“One Time” built the first shops which still exist in the township and the once popular Madibakwena Liquor Store that was torched during the 1976 youth uprising. He is also one of the men who built-up the Atteridgeville taxi industry and demonstrated that township transport was an economy.

The only photo of Johannes "One Time" Letsoalo. Picture: Supplied

People who attended his commemoration that was fully funded by the Spiyoyo Group learned that in his lifetime, between 1894 and 1975, “One Time” married four women and had at least 15 children who now have numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“One Time's” great-grandson, credited for making this initiative possible, Lehlogonolo Letsoalo who founded the popularly A Ga Sechaba Community Projects in Ga-Rankuwa, said the old man came to visit him in his dreams for 11 years but it took him a while to understand what he wanted.

"He came to Atteridgeville after his father and other leaders were killed and beheaded in a land territory dispute by the oppressors who then took over ownership of their land.

"Being a great man that he was, he arrived here and started an empire from scratch to end up as a black man who was driving and selling cars at an auction in 1910 when black men could not do those things.

"When we hear stories about his life, he apparently received the nickname ’One Time’ because he would do something just once and succeed. He was so determined and his love for people made him popular and very influential during a time when black men were not allowed to have influence like that.

"We are talking about a great man here. Where there is now a Sasol filling station in Mawunde Street used to be his filling station. A black man brought that to his people in the township. We are proud to be his descendants. A special thank you to one of his great-great-great-grandson Khutso Letsoalo, 23 who used this new technology to put this together for us. He even took the only photo of Letsoalo that still exists and made a digital copy for us."

“One Time’s” last born son from the family, Zapho Letsoalo, 78, said he was very emotional to see his brother's brilliance recognised and celebrated by the community and his descendants who never even met him.

"This is truly humbling because sometimes our great history is forgotten because our children are not taught the history. We appreciate this and hope that the same is done for other great people so that their impact is forever kept in the history books."

Lehlogonolo was then told by his father Wilson Letsoalo that he would now be known in the family and the community as Lehlogonolo “One Time” Letsoalo.

Pretoria News

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