Thato completed her articles at Bheka Shezi & Partners, working independently and with Counsel from an early stage. This shaped her legal acumen, professionalism and personal motivation.
When she had completed her articles, she was appointed as a Legal Assistant in the Durban Municipality, where Tsautse was responsible for prosecuting contraventions of city by-laws and overseeing insurance litigation. After the 1994 elections, she was tasked with merging numerous municipalities into one.
By 1996, she felt she would be better placed to further her career as a member of the legal profession and formed a partnership, Makhanya Tsautse and Mvambo, where Tsautse was the marketing partner. Here she was able to break new ground by making inroads into previously white dominated fields of work.
In 2000, Tsautse was asked to join the Port of Durban as the Acting Port Legal Advisor, where she quickly expanded her expertise to include maritime work. She was promoted to Legal Manager of SA Port Operations, a division 0of Transnet, in 2001. From 2002, the legal department reported directly to the CEO of SAPO, and Tsautse was tasked with heading the legal department nationally. One of her roles at Transnet was ensure that there was proper governance in the contracts division and she came up with innovative solutions in terms of streamlining operations.
She won a Maritime Law Association Scholarship to train with the law firm Holland and Knight in New York, where she was placed in the Maritime Law and Maritime Structured Finance department, which was meanly looking at contracts for the deals in the Maritime Sector.
In 2005, Tsautse was the joint head of the maritime unit at Edward Nathan Sonnonbergs.
Currently Tsautse is the Managing Director Tsautse Bayi Inc. a female owned law firm secializing in Maritime and Corporate Law. Before assuming this position, she was the CEO of the South African Association of Ship Operators & Agents (SAASOA), and the Chair of the Durban Port Liaison Committee and Maritime Promotion Council.
Tsautse holds a BProc, LLB and LLM (Maritime Studies), and has also completed an Executive Development program at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), where she did her an MBA for a year and is yet to resume it. She also holds a BTheology from UNISA.
In 2010, Tsautse was the 1st female in the history of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to be appointed Deputy President, and then President in 2011.
In January 2014, she was ordained as Deacon in the Anglican Church.
President - Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry 2011-
Member of the Port Regulator of South Africa - 2012-
Chairman of KwaZulu Natal Provincial Audit and Risk Committee - 2011-
Board Member - Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (Wista) South Africa 2010 -2012
Deputy President - Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry 2010 -2011
eThekwini Maritime Cluster -2009
Audit Committee Member (chairperson) – Ndwendwe Municipality 2006 -2010
Non-Executive Director of Railway Safety Regulator
Railway Safety Committee – Railway Safety Regulator
Chair of HR and Remuneration Committee – Rail Safety Regulator
President of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (Wista) South Africa 2006