South Africa has a severe shortage of veterinarians. Fact. That is why Dr Justice Masilela is encouraging learners to study hard to gain access to one of the most difficult courses to get into.
At 29, Masilela isa bright young star among local veterinarians. He is the founder and owner of Asante Veterinary Consultants, which he established in 2020. From Gauteng to North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga to KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, he goes out of his way to help farm animals in need.
Here’s four things you didn’t know about him.
1. He was raised by his grandmother.
Masilela grew up in Buffelspruit village near Malelane in Mpumalanga. As a child, he was surrounded by chickens, cows, goats and sheep. He knew that an office job wasn’t for him. He wanted to be on farms, surrounded by animals.
2. His teacher inspired him to become a vet.
“It all started in matric,” says Masilela. “I didn’t really know about veterinary science until my agriculture teacher went to an event in the Free State and came back with a pamphlet and presented the profession to us. From there I knew this was what I wanted to be.”
3. He got top marks in matric.
The only institution in South Africa that offers the six-year BVSc degree is the University of Pretoria. This is through their faculty of veterinary science – one of just 46 in the whole of Africa. This means that Masilela was competing against everyone else in the country who wanted to become veterinarians.
The minimum entry requirement is the National Senior Certificate with the following subjects and levels of achievement: 60% to 69% for English at home or first additional level, and the same marks for mathematics and physical science. The reality, however, is that most of the students selected are among the top academic achievers in the country.
4. He is passionate about helping new farmers.
Masilela did his community service as a veterinarian in Randfontein, west of Johannesburg. He worked with many up-and-coming farmers.
“What struck me there, was that people didn’t have the money to afford certain services like veterinary services, so they relied more on what the government could offer. And what the government could offer is always limited because of resources.
“There was a huge number of emerging farmers that depended on the government. That’s when I developed an interest not only in dealing with production animals but also to go beyond in helping emerging farmers.”