The good doctor: a young vet saving and changing lives

"There was a huge number of emerging farmers that depended on the government," Dr Justice Msilela recalls. "That's when I developed an interest not only in dealing with production animals but also to go beyond in helping emerging farmers." He tells his story

Dr Justice Msilela started his consultancy in Gauteng but is now delivering services in six provinces. Photo: Supplied/Dr Justice Msilela

Dr Justice Msilela started his consultancy in Gauteng but is now delivering services in six provinces. Photo: Supplied/Dr Justice Msilela

Meet doctor Justice Masilela – a bright young star among the veterinarians of Mzansi.

The 29-year old doctor was raised by his grandmother in a village of Buffelspruit near a small town called Malelane in Mpumalanga, and is now the founder-owner of Asante Veterinary Consultants, which he established in 2020 in Randburg, Gauteng.

The healthcare and farming consultancy for production animals provides services as far as in North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. What’s more, is that he provides animal healthcare training to farmers as well.

Where it all started

“It all started in matric,” he tells Food For Mzansi. “I didn’t really know about it 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.”

What he loved about it, is that it would give him the liberty to work outside on farms, with wildlife in game reserves and with animals in general.

“Obviously, there is a hospital side of it where one works in private practices doing surgery where you mostly treat companion animals, such as dogs and cats. However, I was attracted by the idea of working with animals in an outside space.

“Of course, to become a vet means you must study, so I went to the University of Pretoria, where I completed my studies.”

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As much as Dr Justice Msilela is passionate about helping small-scale and new farmers, travelling becomes the main problem as some farmers live in deeply remote areas. Photo: Supplied/Dr Justice Msilela

A desire to help

Growing up in a village with animals around, such as chickens, cows, goats and sheep, it became very easy for Masilela to venture into his current profession. His yearning to work outside, in animal production, naturally led him to develop an interest in being a livestock vet.

But his day-to-day activities are about more than helping just the animals.

“I started working in Johannesburg in an area called Randfontein. That’s where I did my community service. We worked a lot with emerging farms.”

“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.”

ALSO READ: The ABC’s of agricultural careers

Challenges and courage

When asked about the challenges in his business, he says that, as much as he would like to reach everyone, travelling becomes the main problem as some farmers live in deeply remote areas. But he’s already thinking about a promising solution.

“We are open to travelling the whole country, helping where we can, and that is why we hope to have some sort of an app whereby farmers can affordably consult with us and also reach farmers in areas that we cannot physically get to. That’s where we are heading.”

“If we can get enough capital so we can be able to develop that app, it will make our job easier, employ more people and reach farmers over the country, the continent and possibly all over the world.”

And if he could share some advice with young people who want to join him in the vet trade, it would be to equip themselves with skills and qualifications that will make them marketable. “Choose a qualification that you can be able to make a business out of.

“The field is broad. One can work in the pharmaceutical industry, work in the research facilities or at universities as an academic. One can also work in food production companies. There’s also a technological side, where one can develop technologies to help farmers. 

“I would like to encourage young people to consider being veterinarians because there are endless opportunities in this career.”

ALSO READ: SA’s severe vet shortage will be difficult to fix

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