Former gangster helps young prisoners get second chances in life

Former gangster helps young prisoners get second chances in life

- A former gangster made the decision to change his life while serving time in jail

- He didn't want to die as a statistic

- Today, he motivates other young prisoners and gives them hope

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Mthetheleli (MT) had a difficult upbringing. He grew up as one of six children, struggling to live on their mother’s income. His father was abusive and it unfortunately led to a fragmented family unit.

His dad was abusive towards his mother, and his parents didn’t share the same values, causing the children to become undisciplined. His mother was always worried about their safety and pleaded with them to not make bad decisions.

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Unfortunately his situation led him to join a gang at the tender age of 14. This caused a descent into a life of crime. He was eventually arrested and sentenced to 45 years in prison. He was 20 at the time.

MT served his sentence in the Drakenstein Correctional Services (DCS) Facility. The facility was plagued with gang violence and one day he realised that he too may join the statistics of those who died behind bars. In his room, he prayed a desperate prayer and decided to change his life.

He had to inform the gang members that he wanted to leave the group - this was one of the most dangerous things to do.

The hardest part was informing the gang members, fearing they might seek revenge.

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Since his release from prison, an organisation called The Message Trust has helped MT find accommodation and helped him establish his own small tourism business. He worked with The Message Trust in their Gangstar Café social enterprise where he shares his story with others.

Today, MT trains young men in prison and gangs and brings to them a message of hope.

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