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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Township pizza spot runs on hard work, dreams

Makatleho (Anna) Maseko cooks a pizza at Kasi Pizza, her garage-turned-pizza restaurant in Mautse, a township in the Free State province. PHOTO: MAXIMILIAN MURPHY ’26/THE HAWK.

Mautse, South Africa – On the first day she opened Kasi Pizza at the end of 2022, Makatleho (Anna) Maseko sold every one of the 80 pizzas she had prepared in her small kitchen.

Maseko operates Kasi Pizza from her garage-turned-pizza restaurant in the Black township of Mautse, which was created by the apartheid government under the Group Areas Act of 1950. It is the township’s only formal restaurant.

Kasi Pizza offers six kinds of pizza, including chicken, vegetable and mince, as well as burgers and fries and traditional African food like skopo (sheep’s head) and pap (maize meal). Diners sit outside under a steel awning to the right of the driveway.

Maseko has loved cooking since she was a child. She first entered the food industry washing dishes and waitressing, including at a restaurant across the highway in Rosendal. At Rosa Restaurant, a head chef noticed Maseko’s cooking and promoted her to a line chef. 

“He told me, ‘You do not belong where you are,’” Maseko said. “‘Just follow your heart.’ Then I went to the kitchen and I never went back.” 

Makatleho (Anna) Maseko prepares a pizza in her home kitchen, which she sometimes uses as preparation space for her restaurant. PHOTO: MAXIMILIAN MURPHY ’26/THE HAWK.

Maseko moved on to head chef and manager at Benjamin’s Restaurant in Rosendal. Expanding her portfolio of skills, she also underwent training to bake and decorate cakes. In June 2022, she founded Anna’s Bakery to make special occasion cakes for the local and surrounding communities. Six months later, she launched Kasi Pizza.

Shortly after starting Kasi Pizza, Maseko won first place in a youth business competition, walking away with prize money that helped her buy her first official pizza oven. 

Maseko employs her husband, Samuel Maseko, who handles all of the business paperwork, including applying for funding, and one other person full time. Four other local women work when needed.

“We are now two employees, plus the other four,” Samuel Maseko said. “When it’s catering or it’s a bit hectic, everyone is here, and she needs to pay so that they can provide for their families.” 

The Masekos want to create jobs, specifically for youth. South Africa’s youth unemployment rate sits at a staggering 45.5%. Its overall unemployment rate is the highest in the world.

“We grew up in this area where there are no jobs. You don’t work, you don’t eat,” Samuel Maseko said.

Lerato Maseko, daughter of Makatleho Maseko’s sister in-law, works for Makatleho Maseko and said while she now dreams of starting a catering business, she hadn’t thought about it until she started working at Kasi Pizza. 

“I learned everything here from the owner of the business,” Lerato Maseko said. “She’s the one who taught me and took me in, each and every step.” 

Makatleho Maseko said she hopes to continue supporting youth by sharing her professional skills with young girls. She plans to offer baking classes and certificates for girls going through the transition from high school to university.

“Whilst they are waiting for university, they can help themselves,” Samuel Maseko said.  

Another future goal is to sell Kasi Pizza’s allergy-friendly bases in large supermarket chain stores like Shoprite and Pick n Pay. The restaurant’s menu currently has gluten-free pizza options, replacing the typical crust with a gluten-free alternative but keeping the same signature tomato paste and stringy melted cheese. Makatleho Maseko is looking to source vegan cheese as well.

Makatleho Maseko said she offers allergy-friendly options in her restaurant because many children in the community have intolerances to foods like gluten. 

Kasi Pizza is the only formal restaurant in the township of Mautse. PHOTO: MAXIMILIAN MURPHY ’26.

Because the local community is a big supporter of Kasi Pizza, the Masekos said they want to ensure their food is available at an accessible price point. A small pizza is sold for R60 ($3.36) and a large pizza for R120 ($6.71). 

The community’s support has fueled Makatleho Maseko’s desire to expand seating, which is limited because of the restaurant’s small physical location. Final paperwork pending, the municipality is helping the Masekos set up a shipping container restaurant next to the community stadium down the street from their current location. They are also in the process of applying for funding for a motorbike so they can hire someone to do deliveries. 

“The thing is, she’s got the passion for this, and it’s now starting to show some glimpse of good things to come,” Samuel Maseko said. 

That passion, the culmination of years spent chasing a dream, is evident in Makatleho Maseko’s desire to share her culinary gifts. 

“This is the best thing that I’ve ever done to my life,” said Makatleho Maseko, as the aroma of freshly baked dough traveled through the window of her kitchen, filling diners’ noses before curling down the driveway.

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Hannah Pajtis
Hannah Pajtis, Features Editor
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