For­mer con­vict now a lec­turer

Daily News - - METRO - ANELISA KUBHEKA [email protected]

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.”

PIC­TURE: GCINA NDWALANE Agency (ANA) African News

PEO­PLE cool­ing off dur­ing the week­end’s blis­ter­ingly hot weather at the Dur­ban beach­front.

BONGANI MBATHA African News Agency (ANA)

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

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