TINYIKO GWAMBE is used to a life of challenges and has conquered most, one after the other, all by herself. 

Tinyiko has found love – and she has found support. 

HER CHALLENGES AREN’T SMALL BUT SHE’S NOT ALONE! The inspirational Tinyiko took life as it came to her. Despite being born without hands and legs, she has made the best out of her life.


From primary school through high school she’s always worked at getting an education.

Education, believes the 24-year-old, is key. It’s the tool that will broaden her perspective and improve her life. Her family has always taken turns taking her to school and their support has played an important role in her life.

Tinyiko Gwambe during her graduation ceremony after obtaining a degree in Social Development and Policy last year. Photo Supplied

And her life has taken on new meaning, now that she’s found the love of her life. Tinyiko now lives with her boyfriend in Soshanguve block R in Tshwane.

“I’ve suffered a broken heart at the hands of previous partners. But now I have found true love.”

Tinyiko, originally from Tshilamba in Venda, Limpopo, told Daily Sun her boyfriend Xolisa Makeleni (29), whom she met through social media in 2017, accepts her as she is.

Tinyiko arrived in Tshwane in 2014 and started a course in IT but abandoned that for a degree in social development policy in 2015 at the University of Pretoria. She completed the degree in 2017.


She completed her honours in 2018 and graduated last year. She’s starting her masters this year. When she first met Xolisa face to face in Sunnyside, Tshwane, she had no time for love and wanted to focus on her studies.

“Xolisa found me with a lot of anger, but because of his love I decided to give him a chance,” she said.

“He acted differently. He was not shy to hold me. He’d hold me and kiss me in public.”

They wanted to get married early last year. She was sick and struggled to breathe for six months, so they delayed tying the knot.

She’d love to have three kids after marriage. Xolisa, originally from Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, quit his job as a general worker at a fencing business to be with her. 

“When I met her I said to myself she needed to be loved like any human being. I wanted to be a good boyfriend to her. I’ll not allow anyone to come between us. Tinyiko makes me crazy with love,” he said.

Tinyiko Gwambe?says Xolisa Makeleni is her lover, her hands and feet. BELOW: Tinyiko on her graduation day. Photos by Raymond Morare

“She’s special and talented. She does the impossible. She’s good at everything she takes on. She dreams big!”

Tinyiko said she needs help. 


“It’s difficult for me to travel to my studies. I have to pay for my boyfriend to go with me,” she said. 

She’s looking for work so she can do other things and her boyfriend also needs a job. Her R1 600 grant doesn’t cover her expenses.

Xolisa’s friend Sindile Rawana (30) said at first he didn’t believe his friend was in love with someone living with a disability.

“But now I totally support their relationship. My friend has shown me what love is and how to treat a woman,” he said

Tinyiko’s older sister Lufuno (34) said: “Tinyiko grew up like any other child, but in spite of her challenges she always pushed hard. We’re happy for her and happy she’s in a relationship. We support her all the way.”