Welcome Witbooi is a South African former gangster leader. He was the Number Gang's leader that ruled South Africa's prisons in a notoriously ruthless and secretive manner. He had to do what was needed of him to rise through the ranks and survive prison until one day when he decided enough was enough.
As a gangster member, he was an excellent player of his part. He was articulate with a calm and collected demeanour. He would dress the part when working at corporate events, covering his tattoos with collars and long sleeves. Luckily, he had a turnaround for the best.
Welcome Witbooi story
What was Welcome Witbooi age when he joined the gang? Witbooi was only 12 years old when he became a member of the 28s gang group. He was going about his normal life when a gang boss and drug lord by the name, Mayor of Valhalla Park called him to his car. The boss told him that he had seen a lot of potential in him.
He became a runner of the firm with his main role being delivering packages from one point to another. He would do the deliveries while wearing his school uniform. This way, the police officers would neither notice him nor search in his bag.
Rising through the ranks
Within a year of doing deliveries in disguise, he had moved on to burglaries and robberies. He was determined to be no longer the young boy everyone knew and saw.
At the age of 16, Welcome was handed his first gun and bullets. He was bundled into a car with other members of the gang ready for his initiation task. As they approached the leafy suburbs of Durbanville, Welcome Witbooi gangster members spotted a woman walking towards her car and marked her as the target.
His instructions were to get out of the car and shoot her. He walked towards the woman and showed her the gun. In fear, the woman asked Welcome to take all the money and the car. Since he could not drive, he commanded the woman to get in the car and drive him away.
The woman jumped out of the car at a traffic light and ran into a neighbouring video shop. He jumped out as well and ran in the opposite direction.
Facing the law
After Witbooi was arrested, his seven accomplices were arrested shortly after too. The other gang members warned him to take the fall since he was a minor and a first-time offender. He was convicted of kidnapping, extortion, assault, and robbery. As a result, he was sentenced to 23 years in jail.
He was initiated into the Numbers Gang membership without his knowledge while in prison. When asked who he was, the correct response was supposed to be n Frans van Shonalanga, which meant that he would become a member of the 28s.
Welcome Witbooi 28 gangs
After initiation to the 28 gangs, Witbooi had to survive and stab his way up the ranks. This was the only way to avoid being raped, abused, or killed while in prison. He was imprisoned at the age of 17, and by 21 years he had two stars on his shoulders. Each star was for each correctional officer he had stabbed.
At the age of 25, he had four stars on each shoulder. He had now become the general of the 28s where he commanded over 2,500 people in Pollsmoor prison. Every day, Welcome made thousands of rands from undertaking numerous illegal prison activities.
After leading the gang for seven years, he decided to quit. After the four generals heard his case, one of the two known as executioners told him that he had taught him to read and write, and thus they would spare his life. After sparing his life, Welcome applied for a transfer from Pollsmoor to Brandvlei and moved immediately; the transfer was approved.
Turning a new page in life
Upon transfer, he met the new prison's chaplain Father Babychan Arackathara who helped him obtain a bursary. He studied adult basic education and training with a speciality in human and social sciences. He began teaching in prison and did other positive things, such as helping inmates and orphans. He created the Group of Hope Initiative.
After his first parole hearing in 2010, his application was denied with the fear that he could only be pretending to have changed. A series of mediation followed this through the restorative justice programme. Eventually, he was released in 2012 after serving for 14 years.
Welcome had been imprisoned at the age of 17 and now released 17 years later to a whole different era. Lots of things had taken place while he was in prison. In 2001, his mother succumbed to leukaemia while his father died of a road accident in 2004.
He moved back to live with his grandmother, who visited and prayed for him while in prison. His brothers and friends were eagerly waiting for him with drugs, money, cars and women, but he did not fall victim to all these things.
Welcome Witbooi movies and new job
Father Babychan offered him a job in his prison’s empowerment programme with numerous organizations. Later, he founded the Heart and Soul Foundation SA. The foundation's role is offering diversion programmes and encouraging young people to build rather than destroy society.
Welcome was part of a movie known as The Forgiven. It is a fictional account of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his search for answers during the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). Welcome Witbooi The Forgiven star returned to prison, during the shoot, for the first time in seven years of release.
Welcome Witbooi book
Welcome constantly shares his story in different schools across the country. Welcome Witbooi story is used as a warning to the young generations on the dangers associated with being a gangster.
He published a book in a bid to help people learn from the mistakes he made. Welcome Witbooi book is Blood In – Blood Out: From becoming imprisoned into gangster life to finding ultimate freedom.
Welcome Witbooi pictures
Welcome has transformed not only on his behaviour but on his looks too. Here are a few photos that display the change.
1. Community service
Welcome has been working to empower and encourage the youth to become better people in society. His main goal is turning strangers into friends and friends into a family. It is his mission with this local football club.
2. Helping the less privileged
Christmas is known as a time to make someone merry. What better way than to share with the less privileged and give them a reason to smile? Welcome has assumed the role of Father Christmas in creating a smile on the kid's faces.
3. Welcome Witbooi girlfriend
Welcome has found the right woman for himself. One who accepts his past and supports his future. He has found someone to walk with and stand by at all times.
Welcome Witbooi has had it all as a young gang member, going through the prison to finally deciding to reform through a matter of life and death. His transformation story shows that people have room to change for the better.
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