For­mer gang­ster now has ma­tric and right at­ti­tude

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SIHLE MANDA

A 22-YEAR-OLD Sa­sol­burg man man­aged to pass his ma­tric after un­tan­gling him­self from a life of gang­ster­ism that claimed the lives of some of his ac­com­plices.

Thapelo Kh­eswa is, how­ever, dis­ap­pointed that his ma­tric re­sults were not good enough for him to en­rol for an ed­u­ca­tion de­gree – a ca­reer he had set his sights on pur­su­ing. He got a diploma pass but not the re­quired bach­e­lor pass.

“I ob­vi­ously don’t qual­ify,” said a de­jected Kh­eswa, con­ced­ing he would have to make do with the re­sults he had achieved.

He said his for­mer group, be­sides of­ten clash­ing with other gangs, of­ten ter­rorised his com­mu­nity. Many of the for­mer gang­sters were now lan­guish­ing in jail, while oth­ers had died in clashes and am­bushes.

Kh­eswa said he was thank­ful to the teach­ers from his school and the ini­ti­a­tion school who gave him the push to ex­tri­cate him­self from a life of crime.

“I was a gang­ster but my elders man­aged to help me aban­don my ways. My teach­ers were very sup­port­ive. I was a gang­ster for about four years but I took a de­ci­sion to pre­serve my life,” he said.

Although he was never ar­rested for any of his crimes, he was ques­tioned by po­lice in con­nec­tion with a stab­bing. The case was even­tu­ally dis­missed.

“I have lost friends and some are in jail for gang­ster­ism. There were gang wars in the area.

“I no longer hang with those peo­ple be­cause I took a de­ci­sion to live my life in the right track, but it was not at all easy. At some point I even con­tem­plated giv­ing up on school but my teach­ers en­cour­aged me to sol­dier on,” he said. “I guess it was just a bad phase in my life.”

The young man now lives alone, hav­ing grown up in a child­headed home with his sib­lings.

His men­tor and for­mer teacher Ray­mond Nkomo ex­pressed de­light at Kh­eswa’s achieve­ment.

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