Road to redemption

2016-11-10 06:00
 Dance instructor Sofire turned away from a life of crime to step into the groove.  PHOTO: Mandla Mahashe

Dance instructor Sofire turned away from a life of crime to step into the groove. PHOTO: Mandla Mahashe

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A once a troubled youth who's turning point in life was a 10 year stint in prison has had him dancing to a different tune.

Sonwabo ‘Sofire’ Bomvana, 35, is a Gugulethu born dance instructor who has been granted a Zumba license, has started to promote weight loss classes in Langa.

Bomvana currently works as a dance instructor at Project Playground, a youth NGO, based at the St Francis centre. His road to self realisation began with a neglected childhood which catapulted him into a life of drugs and crime.

“My parents died when I was very young and my relatives had to look after me. I was everyone’s responsibility...while that was not bad, but I lacked that emotional bond with a parent. Often I felt like a burden to my family.

This led me to seek love from outside which led me to get involved in gangs, smoking dagga. From dagga we graduated to Mandrax because we were looking for a higher buzz, but this became expensive, so we decided to rob people,”

He started a life of crime at 15 years old and became a regular in prison until he was arrested for a big crime in 2002.

“In March of that year we robbed a shop at gunpoint in Observatory, and were arrested. This was the beginning of my long stay in prison. I was sentenced to 15 years but only did 10 years.

I did a lot of moving in the prison system of South Africa: I started serving in Pollsmoor Correctional Facility. After a few years I was kept in solitary confinement in Pretoria C Max prison.

This is where I did a lot of thinking about my life; I only had the Bible to read for six months. I turned to faith especially because there were bad spirits in that place. You must remember that this was where people were hanged during apartheid.

After that I was sent to Pretoria Central Prison where I realised that inmates there are involved in activities such as dance, art and organisation.

This revived my love for gumboot dancing that I had when I was young and I told myself this is something I could follow,” he recalled.

Bomvana did stints in Pietermaritzburg, Drakenstein and Goodwood Correctional Centres.

“When I got out, I decided I will never go back to prison again as I did a lot of reading about personal development whilst there.

I started to speak to young gang members about personal development. Some got it, while others wanted to continue in their ways,” he said.

In 2014 Bomvana started work as a dance facilitator at Project Playground where he developed a love for fitness training and enrolled to be Zumba instructor.

Last month he received his license and has started his classes at the Johnson Ngwevela Community Hall.

“I never want to go back to crime, instead I want to do something that I love and make a living for myself,” he said.

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