Notorious tavern becomes home for street kids

2011-12-30 00:00

THANKS to “divine intervention”, Mysistoz Tavern in Imbali has been converted to a shelter for street kids who had made the lane near Upper Crust bakery in the city centre their home for years.

Mysistoz has been a notorious drinking hole for the past 15 years.

In 1996 Bongani “Sistoz” Khathi, aged just 22, opened the tavern — a decision that changed for the worse the lives of many young people in the township and other areas in Pietermaritzburg with the introduction of Ecstasy and other drugs that were used there.

But, said Khathi: “The power of prayer from the Christian Revival members based in Plessislaer opened my eyes to the fact that I had been destroying a lot of teenagers and caused a lot of pain for my neighbours.”

He said he recently suffered a stroke and that was when he was introduced to the Christian Revival group, who prayed for his health.

“I became a saved man and decided in early December to close the tavern, despite knowing it is the busiest month, but it was against the principles of my faith,” said Khathi.

He said Mysistoz had become a haven for the drug trade and a catalyst to spread HIV and Aids among teenagers, who sometimes had sex behind the tavern while drunk.

“I am sorry for the pain that I have caused to the society. That is why I have dedicated this tavern to become a place of hope for the needy children in my attempt to bring about positive change.”

On Christmas eve Khathi organised a Christmas party for street kids and he will throw a New Year’s celebration party for them.

“I appeal to my neighbours, business people and the government to help me realise my dream of helping the impoverished,” added Khathi.

Neighbour Bhekiwe Ntuli said: “We grew up with Bongani … he was a nice boy. Things changed for the worse when he took over the running of this tavern because there was no rule of law.”

She said neighbours of the tavern suffered and some even sent their children to boarding schools to keep them away from the tavern’s bad influence.

The noise had become a daily burden because the tavern was always open, Ntuli said.

“Some people were even shot there. I am grateful that Bongani has changed and I am hoping it is for the best.

“We as neighbours are also to blame because we did not help Bongani by offering our prayers. Instead as Christians we hated him and prayed for his demise.”

But now, said Ntuli, “we are going to support him.”

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