Former convict now a lecturer
A FORMER KwaMashu convict has turned his life around since his twoyear incarceration from the age of 17.
Mnelisi Xaba, now 28, excelled in matric at the Usethubeni School at Westville Prison and also obtained his Masters degree in marketing. He is now an assistant lecturer and academic student adviser at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT).
Xaba was jailed for housebreaking and said he changed his mindset from when he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, which put his life on a trajectory that he had never anticipated.
This also saved him from getting lost and involved with prison gangs.
In 2009, he was honoured as one of the top matric achievers at prisons in KZN.
“After matric, it was a pity that I was not able to get out of prison that year, so I ended up teaching economics at the prison school. Then, when released in 2010, I got a job at Stuttafords, where I worked as a salesperson. I also got the opportunity to be promoted and became their brand ambassador,” he said.
Explaining how he became a criminal, Xaba said he fell victim to peer pressure when he went to visit relatives in Chesterville.
“I hooked up with friends in Chesterville and we went around stealing. I was convicted and sentenced, but that’s when I changed my perception of life. I knew I was in prison through a mistake I had made. I was young,” he said.
His motivation while behind bars was fuelled by his dream of completing his schooling.
“I didn’t just complete my high school education. I also exceeded my own expectations,” he said.
In 2014, Xaba decided to go back to school to study for his undergraduate diploma in marketing at MUT.
“Thereafter, in 2017, I enrolled at the Durban University of Technology, where I completed my B-Tech and last year I completed my Masters at Tshwane University of Technology.”
Xaba added that his achievement in obtaining his diploma cum laude opened doors for him, so much so that the following year he was offered a position as an assistant lecturer at MUT.
“As an academic student adviser, I get to work with young people. I guide them not only academically, but I also get to share my life experiences with them, and I encourage them because we all come from different backgrounds, but these backgrounds don’t determine where you end up in life.”
PEOPLE cooling off during the weekend’s blisteringly hot weather at the Durban beachfront.
MNELISI Xaba (right), a former top matric achiever from Westville Prison’s Usethubeni School, is now a Masters graduate and assistant lecturer. He is pictured congratulating the school’s 2018 top matric achiever, Nlakanipho Mpofana. I