The unique shack put together by Cape Town builder Fernando Mkhabela. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
The unique shack put together by Cape Town builder Fernando Mkhabela. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
The exterior of the Fernando Mkhabela's shack. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
The exterior of the Fernando Mkhabela's shack. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
The unique shack put together by Cape Town builder Fernando Mkhabela. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
The unique shack put together by Cape Town builder Fernando Mkhabela. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
The kitchen. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
The kitchen. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - A shack on the outside, a palace on the inside, this three-room shack can easily be mistaken for a luxury hotel in the city centre.

Nestled in the heart of Joe Slovo near Milnerton, the stylish home of Mozambican national, Fernando Mkhabela, has become somewhat of an iconic site and treasure of the community.

Walking up the steep and shaky wooden staircase, nothing prepares one for the technologically-advanced home with beaming lights. Mkhabela’s shack is the only one in the area with a geyser system and shower. His shack has since gone viral and has had tongues wagging.

There's a neat hotel-style bed with white linen and neatly rolled towels.

A modern touch control stove with a double-door fridge are some of Mkhabela’s favourites. 

“I like beautiful things and I enjoy being surrounded by the finer things in life, I remodelled my home like this because beauty comforts me,” he said.

Son of a mine worker, Mkhabela arrived in the city about 20 years ago, with no formal training or education, and this father of five relies solely on his natural abilities and talents to create his masterpieces.

“I don't have plans that are drawn up to look at and do this, I envision it and I create it.”

Mkhabela renovated his shack on his own using second-hand and scrap material. “Because I had to source the material and did not have much money it took me some time to complete my home.”

Mkhabela’s shack has running water and a tiled floor, his lights are remote-operated and he can even operate them from his cellphone.

At 12, he was living on the streets of Cape Town with no idea of where his life would end up.

It was only when he found himself behind bars at Pollsmoor Prison that he decided to change his ways.

He said he went to church and asked the congregation to pray for him, and that is when he began to see changes in his life.

“I was a naughty boy, the reason I did not go to school is that I would bunk every day until my parents and I decided that it was enough, I simply stopped going. I left home alone, with nothing and no one. When I got to South Africa I continued to mix with bad peers, I did drugs, drank excessively and was eventually arrested with a toy gun and sent to prison for three months.” By 2008, he had already started working at construction sites, but did not realise his passion for interior design.

“I used to do odd jobs here and there, I even worked at the Cape Town Stadium, but I started doing ceilings and renovations in 2014, I don't look at the designs from magazines or anything, it just comes to my head.”

Mkhabela said he has had the opportunity to work in private homes since. “I get jobs from everywhere, I don't have a formally-registered company, but people see and recommend my work to others and that is how I get business. I have over 20 requests in Johannesburg alone, I am also helping my younger brother to learn and do the ceilings as well as other construction work, so he can help me with the workload.” Asked about his future plans, Mkhabela told Weekend Argus he could only hope for the best, but leaves his destiny to God.

"He shows me what to do or where to go, so I leave it all to him.”

Weekend Argus